Recommended Research Topics

The Use of Microalgae to Influence the Growth and Development of Crops

The algalisation of rice fields, or with other words the vaccination of nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria into soil, began in Japan in 1951, but seaweed extracts have already been used for decades for the treatment of arable crops. It has recently been demonstrated that the beneficial effect of treatments is primarily due to the plant hormone production of algae. Experimental results show that majority of micro-algae, or maybe all, are capable of the production of at least some plant hormones, and those occur in higher plants as well. There is no reason to believe that the validly plant hormone-producing microalgae would not be useful for treating cultivated plants, and thus to influence their growth, development and the quantity and quality of their yield. The advantage of microalgae over seaweed used in limited number is that they are not only able to produce hormone, but some show plant protection activity against certain plant diseases.

Objective: research of microalgae showing plant hormone activity and antimicrobial activity against plant diseases. The examination of strains with properties mentioned above and their effects on economically important crops, especially the plants with large foliage, and on those, for which the treatment of seaweed extracts proved to be effective.

 

Research of Microalgae Fatty Acid Production by Traditional and Molecular methods

The research and mass cultivation of high lipid content algae began during the Second World War in Germany to provide combat vehicles with fuel. In recent years, it has become apparent that we need to pay close attention to the high lipid content and lipid-producing microalgae due to they can be used as renewable energy sources and they can reduce carbon dioxide content of the air. Their lipid content can easily reach 25-30%, but in case of some species it can be 60-70%. 20-50 times more biodiesel raw material can be produced by microalgae per hectare than comparing that unit with a hectare of rape. According to the calculations carried out in the USA, the only realistic possibility of biodiesel production is the mass cultivation of microalgae. In contrast to higher plants, microalgae are capable to produce longer than twenty carbon and greater than three unsaturated fatty acids. The most significant polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for human and animal health protection are the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In terms of PUFAs, the humanity’s only source are microalgae and the aquatic organisms consuming them.

Objective: research of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) producing microalgae by traditional and molecular methods for renewable energy source and human, animal health protection and disease prevention.

 

Use of Microalgae in Plant Tissue Culture and Micropropagation

An essential method of the practical application of plant biotechnology is the use of plant regenerants from in vitro plant tissue cultures. The chemical composition and physical parameters of the culture influence the expression of explants’ genotype and phenotype potential. The plant growth regulating substances (PGRs) play a central role in the regulation of organogenesis. Along with the use of synthetic plant hormones, the organogenesis of recalcitrant species can be enhanced by the naturally-occurring plant growth regulating substances (e.g. from algae). Currently, one of the most effective tools of modern plant propagation is the plant micropropagation, or in other words, the propagation of a selected elite genotype by in vitro tissue culture. The applied in vitro technique significantly and often negatively affects the number and quality of regenerated plants. We encounter mostly the phenomenon of the so-called vitrification which makes the acclimatization of micropropagated plants difficult. Such plants dry out quickly and are less able to defend themselves against pathogens/pests. One way for loss reduction is the use of organic supplements produced intracellularly in the acclimatization phase by cyanobacteria and microalgae strains which can enhance the survival value of the regenerated plants. This can be used for both in vitro propagation stage and ex vitro adaptation period.

Objective: due to its economic significance, examining the applicability of microalgae and cyanobacteria is important in plant micropropagation. Studies can be carried out on ornamental plants (orchids and herbs, like coneflower), on arable crops (potato) and on horticultural crops (soft fruits).