Haematococcus pluvialis is a freshwater species of Chlorophyta from the family Haematococcaceae. This species is well known for its high content of the strong antioxidant astaxanthin, which is important in aquaculture, and cosmetics. The high amount of astaxanthin is present in the resting cells, which are produced and rapidly accumulated when the environmental conditions become unfavorable for normal cell growth.
Examples of such conditions include bright light, high salinity, and low availability of nutrients. Haematococcus pluvialis is usually found in temperate regions around the world. Their resting cysts are often responsible for the blood-red colour seen in the bottom of dried out rock pools and bird baths. This colour is caused by astaxanthin which is believed to protect the resting cysts from the detrimental effect of UV-radiation, when exposed to direct sunlight.
The Haematococcus strains grow slowly and is commonly carried out in open raceway ponds or closed photobioreactors at around 25–28 °C, and are prone to contamination by other microorganisms (microalgae, fungal parasites, and zooplankton predators). Therefore, a two-stage process is usually employed for biomass production. Green vegetative cells are usually produced in closed photobioreactors under an optimal light intensity and nutrient-replete medium. Then, at maximum cell density, the culture is pushed towards a ‘red’ stage – aplanospores – by exposure to high irradiance in open systems under nutrient stress in order to induce astaxanthin synthesis (up to 5% of dry weight) within 3–5 days.
This pigment is important for human nutrition as an anti-oxidant (protection agent against free-radical-induced diseases) and a natural colorant for the aquaculture of salmonoid fish, shrimp, lobster, and crayfish. However, today, the production of astaxanthin is still restricted to that of a few hundred kilos, mainly addressed to the health food market. The actual production costs are still too high to compete with synthetic equivalents. Although the commercial market is dominated by the synthetic product, there are concerns about its safety for human consumption, which makes natural astaxanthin a preferred choice.
Many species of microalgae have been used as source of nutrient rich food, feed, and health promoting compounds. Among the commercially important microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis is the richest source of natural astaxanthin which is considered as “super anti-oxidant.” Natural astaxanthin produced by H. pluvialis has significantly greater antioxidant capacity than the synthetic one.
Astaxanthin has important applications in the nutraceuticals, cosmetics, food, and aquaculture industries. It is now evident that, astaxanthin can significantly reduce free radicals and oxidative stress and help human body maintain a healthy state. With extraordinary potency and increase in demand, astaxanthin is one of the high-value microalgal products of the future.This comprehensive review summarizes the most important aspects of the biology, biochemical composition, biosynthesis, and astaxanthin accumulation in the cells of H. pluvialis and its wide range of applications for humans and animals. In this paper, important and recent developments ranging from cultivation, harvest and postharvest bio-processing technologies to metabolic control and genetic engineering are reviewed in detail, focusing on biomass and astaxanthin production from this biotechnologically important microalga.
Simultaneously, critical bottlenecks and major challenges in commercial scale production; current and prospective global market of H. pluvialis derived astaxanthin are also presented in a critical manner. A new biorefinery concept for H. pluvialis has been also suggested to guide toward economically sustainable approach for microalgae cultivation and processing. This report could serve as a useful guide to present current status of knowledge in the field and highlight key areas for future development of H. pluvialis astaxanthin technology and its large scale commercial implementation.
Two human clinical studies were performed. One was an open-label non-controlled study involving 30 healthy female subjects for 8 weeks. Significant improvements were observed by combining 6 mg per day oral supplementation and 2 ml (78.9 μM solution) per day topical application of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin derived from the microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis showed improvements in skin wrinkle (crow's feet at week-8), age spot size (cheek at week-8), elasticity (crow's feet at week-8), skin texture (cheek at week-4), moisture content of corneocyte layer (cheek in 10 dry skin subjects at week-8) and corneocyte condition (cheek at week-8).
It may suggest that astaxanthin derived from H. pluvialis can improve skin condition in all layers such as corneocyte layer, epidermis, basal layer and dermis by combining oral supplementation and topical treatment. Another was a randomized double-blind placebo controlled study involving 36 healthy male subjects for 6 weeks. Crow's feet wrinkle and elasticity; and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) were improved after 6 mg of astaxanthin (the same as former study) daily supplementation. Moisture content and sebum oil level at the cheek zone showed strong tendencies for improvement. These results suggest that astaxanthin derived from Haematococcus pluvialis may improve the skin condition in not only in women but also in men.
Haematococcus pluvialis, the best natural source for astaxanthin, was cultivated with an immobilized biofilm method, viz. "attached cultivation", which was high in photosynthetic efficiency. ... Both of the red and green cells were found in the biofilm with red cells on the top.
|Common name i||Green alga|
|Synonym i||Haematococcus pluvialis|
|Other names i||›ATCC 30402 ›C-296/C-393 ›CCAP 34/1b ›CPCC 93 ›Haematococcus lacustris (Gir.-Chantr.) Rostaf., 1875 More » ›Haematococcus pluvialis Flot., 1844 ›IAM C-582 ›NIES-2264 ›NIES-50009 ›SAG 34-1b ›UTCC B 93 ›UTEX 16 « Less|
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