Obesity is a major epidemic that poses a worldwide threat to human health, as it is also associated with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therapeutic intervention through weight loss drugs, accompanied by diet and exercise, is one of the options for the treatment and management of obesity. However, the only approved anti-obesity drug currently available in the market is orlistat, a synthetic inhibitor of pancreatic lipase. Other anti-obesity drugs are still being evaluated at different stages of clinical trials, while some have been withdrawn due to their severe adverse effects. Thus, there is a need to look for new anti-obesity agents, especially from biological sources. Marine algae, especially seaweeds are a promising source of anti-obesity agents. Four major bioactive compounds from seaweeds which have the potential as anti-obesity agents are fucoxanthin, alginates, fucoidans and phlorotannins. The anti-obesity effects of such compounds are due to several mechanisms, which include the inhibition of lipid absorption and metabolism (e.g., fucoxanthin and fucoidans), effect on satiety feeling (e.g., alginates), and inhibition of adipocyte differentiation (e.g., fucoxanthin). Further studies, especially testing bioactive compounds in long-term human trials are required before any new anti-obesity drugs based on algal products can be developed.
Congracilaria babae was first reported as a red alga parasitic on the thallus of Gracilaria salicornia based on Japanese materials. It was circumscribed to have deep spermatangial cavities, coloration similar to its host and the absence of rhizoids. We observed a parasitic red alga with morphological and anatomical features suggestive of C. babae on a Hydropuntia species collected from Sabah, East Malaysia. We addressed the taxonomic affinities of the parasite growing on Hydropuntia sp. based on the DNA sequence of molecular markers from the nuclear, mitochondrial and plastid genomes (nuclear ITS region, mitochondrial cox1 gene and plastid rbcL gene). Phylogenetic analyses based on all genetic markers also implied the monophyly of the parasite from Hydropuntia sp. and C. babae, suggesting their conspecificity. The parasite from Hydropuntia sp. has a DNA signature characteristic to C. babae in having plastid rbcL gene sequence identical to G. salicornia. C. babae is likely to have evolved directly from G. salicornia and subsequently radiated onto a secondary host Hydropuntia sp. We also recommend the transfer of C. babae to the genus Gracilaria and propose a new combination, G. babae, based on the anatomical observations and molecular data.
The potential application of Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 001 for bioremediation of textile wastewater (TW) was investigated using four batches of cultures in high rate algae ponds (HRAP) containing textile dye (Supranol Red 3BW) or TW. The biomass attained ranged from 0.17 to 2.26 mg chlorophyll a/L while colour removal ranged from 41.8% to 50.0%. There was also reduction of NH(4)-N (44.4-45.1%), PO(4)-P (33.1-33.3%) and COD (38.3-62.3%) in the TW. Supplementation of the TW with nutrients of Bold's Basal Medium (BBM) increased biomass production but did not improve colour removal or reduction of pollutants. The mechanism of colour removal by C. vulgaris is biosorption, in accordance with both the Langmuir and Freundlich models. The HRAP using C. vulgaris offers a good system for the polishing of TW before final discharge.
There is currently much interest in biological active compounds derived from natural resources, especially compounds that can efficiently act on molecular targets, which are involved in various diseases. Astaxanthin (3,3'-dihydroxy-β, β'-carotene-4,4'-dione) is a xanthophyll carotenoid, contained in Haematococcus pluvialis, Chlorella zofingiensis, Chlorococcum, and Phaffia rhodozyma. It accumulates up to 3.8% on the dry weight basis in H. pluvialis. Our recent published data on astaxanthin extraction, analysis, stability studies, and its biological activities results were added to this review paper. Based on our results and current literature, astaxanthin showed potential biological activity in in vitro and in vivo models. These studies emphasize the influence of astaxanthin and its beneficial effects on the metabolism in animals and humans. Bioavailability of astaxanthin in animals was enhanced after feeding Haematococcus biomass as a source of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin, used as a nutritional supplement, antioxidant and anticancer agent, prevents diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders, and also stimulates immunization. Astaxanthin products are used for commercial applications in the dosage forms as tablets, capsules, syrups, oils, soft gels, creams, biomass and granulated powders. Astaxanthin patent applications are available in food, feed and nutraceutical applications. The current review provides up-to-date information on astaxanthin sources, extraction, analysis, stability, biological activities, health benefits and special attention paid to its commercial applications.
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders of the endocrine system characterised by hyperglycaemia. Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) constitutes the majority of diabetes cases around the world and are due to unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, as well as rise of obesity in the population, which warrants the search for new preventive and treatment strategies. Improved comprehension of T2DM pathophysiology provided various new agents and approaches against T2DM including via nutritional and lifestyle interventions. Seaweeds are rich in dietary fibres, unsaturated fatty acids, and polyphenolic compounds. Many of these seaweed compositions have been reported to be beneficial to human health including in managing diabetes. In this review, we discussed the diversity of seaweed composition and bioactive compounds which are potentially useful in preventing or managing T2DM by targeting various pharmacologically relevant routes including inhibition of enzymes such as α-glucosidase, α-amylase, lipase, aldose reductase, protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 (DPP-4). Other mechanisms of action identified, such as anti-inflammatory, induction of hepatic antioxidant enzymes' activities, stimulation of glucose transport and incretin hormones release, as well as β-cell cytoprotection, were also discussed by taking into consideration numerous in vitro, in vivo, and human studies involving seaweed and seaweed-derived agents.
Toxicity testing of four heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Mn and As) using four species of tropical marine phytoplankton, Chaetoceros calcitrans, Isochrysis galbana, Tetraselmis tetrahele and Tetraselmis sp., was carried out in multiwell plates with test volumes of 2 mL and the results compared to those of standard, large volume, shake-flasks. IC50 values (concentrations of metals estimated to inhibit 50% growth relative to the control) were determined after 96 hours based on automated O.D. readings measured in Elisa microplates by a Multiskan spectrophotometer. Good agreement was achieved between O.D. readings and cell counts indicating that this new method is a simple, economical, practical and rapid technique for toxicity testing, and provides good reproducibility of IC50 values. Results of the toxicity tests indicate that Cu was the most toxic metal (average IC50 values ranging from 0.04 to 0.37 mg L(-1)), followed by Cd (0.06-5.7 mg L(-1)), Mn (7.2-21.4 mg L(-1)) and As (33.9-319.3 mg L(-1)). Test species had different degrees of sensitivity to the metals tested, with I. galbana and C. calcitrans the most sensitive to Cu, Cd and Mn. Based on these findings it is recommended that the existing Malaysian Interim Standards for Marine Water Quality for Cd and Cu be reviewed.
The occurrence of tributyltin (TBT) is reported in the coastal waters of a few selected sites in Peninsular Malaysia. Water, bivalves and sediment samples collected were analysed specifically for TBT using sensitive analytical methods which involved a solvent extraction procedure with appropriate clean-up followed by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometric measurements. The levels of TBT in the seawater in unexposed areas were found in the range from <3.4 to 20 ng litre(-1) as compared to coastal areas with high boat and ship activities where TBT levels in seawater were generally above 30 ng litre(-1), with the highest level found at 281.8 ng litre(-1). TBT levels in the tissues of random cockle and soft-shell clam samples from local markets were found in the range from <0.5 to 3.7 ng g(-1) wet weight. The levels of TBT found in green mussel samples both from the market (23.5 ng g(-1) wet weight) and those from a mussel farm (14.2 ng g(-1) wet weight) indicate slight accumulation of TBT. In sediments, TBT levels were found ranging from <0.7 ng g(-1) dry weight in unexposed coastal sites to as high as 216.5 ng g(-1) dry weight for a site within a port area.
Nanocellulose was successfully isolated from Gelidium elegans red algae marine biomass. The red algae fiber was treated in three stages namely alkalization, bleaching treatment and acid hydrolysis treatment. Morphological analysis was performed by field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). TEM results revealed that the isolated nanocellulose had the average diameter and length of 21.8±11.1nm and of 547.3±23.7nm, respectively. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy proved that the non-cellulosic polysaccharides components were progressively removed during the chemically treatment, and the final derived materials composed of cellulose parent molecular structure. X-ray diffraction (XRD) study showed that the crystallinity of yielded product had been improved after each successive treatments subjected to the treated fiber. The prepared nano-dimensional cellulose demonstrated a network-like structure with higher crystallinity (73%) than that of untreated fiber (33%), and possessed of good thermal stability which is suitable for nanocomposite material.
Vanadium-dependent haloperoxidases (V-HPO), able to catalyze the reaction of halide ions (Cl-, Br-, I-) with hydrogen peroxide, have a great influence on the production of halocarbons, which in turn are involved in atmospheric ozone destruction and global warming. The production of these haloperoxidases in macroalgae is influenced by changes in the surrounding environment. The first reported vanadium bromoperoxidase was discovered 40 years ago in the brown alga Ascophyllum nodosum. Since that discovery, more studies have been conducted on the structure and mechanism of the enzyme, mainly focused on three types of V-HPO, the chloro- and bromoperoxidases and, more recently, the iodoperoxidase. Since aspects of environmental regulation of haloperoxidases are less well known, the present paper will focus on reviewing the factors which influence the production of these enzymes in macroalgae, particularly their interactions with reactive oxygen species (ROS).
In photosynthesis, a very small amount of the solar energy absorbed is transformed into chemical energy, while the rest is wasted as heat and fluorescence. This excess energy can be harvested through biophotovoltaic platforms to generate electrical energy. In this study, algal biofilms formed on ITO anodes were investigated for use in the algal biophotovoltaic platforms. Sixteen algal strains, comprising local isolates and two diatoms obtained from the Culture Collection of Marine Phytoplankton (CCMP), USA, were screened and eight were selected based on the growth rate, biochemical composition and photosynthesis performance using suspension cultures. Differences in biofilm formation between the eight algal strains as well as their rapid light curve (RLC) generated using a pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) fluorometer, were examined. The RLC provides detailed information on the saturation characteristics of electron transport and overall photosynthetic performance of the algae. Four algal strains, belonging to the Cyanophyta (Cyanobacteria) Synechococcus elongatus (UMACC 105), Spirulina platensis. (UMACC 159) and the Chlorophyta Chlorella vulgaris (UMACC 051), and Chlorella sp. (UMACC 313) were finally selected for investigation using biophotovoltaic platforms. Based on power output per Chl-a content, the algae can be ranked as follows: Synechococcus elongatus (UMACC 105) (6.38×10(-5) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a)>Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 051 (2.24×10(-5) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a)>Chlorella sp.(UMACC 313) (1.43×10(-5) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a)>Spirulina platensis (UMACC 159) (4.90×10(-6) Wm(-2)/µgChl-a). Our study showed that local algal strains have potential for use in biophotovoltaic platforms due to their high photosynthetic performance, ability to produce biofilm and generation of electrical power.
Gracilaria tenuistipitata is an agarophyte with substantial economic potential because of its high growth rate and tolerance to a wide range of environment factors. This red seaweed is intensively cultured in China for the production of agar and fodder for abalone. Microsatellite markers were developed from the chloroplast genome of G. tenuistipitata var. liui to differentiate G. tenuistipitata obtained from six different localities: four from Peninsular Malaysia, one from Thailand and one from Vietnam. Eighty G. tenuistipitata specimens were analyzed using eight simple sequence repeat (SSR) primer-pairs that we developed for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification.
Galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase (GALT) catalyzes the reversible conversion of glucose-1-phosphate and UDP-galactose to galactose-1-phosphate and UDP-glucose. This enzyme is also responsible for one of the biochemical steps that produce the precursors of agar and agarose. In this study, we report the molecular cloning and sequence analyses of a cDNA encoding GALT, from Gracilaria changii (B. M. Xia et I. A. Abbott) I. A. Abbott, J. Zhang et B. M. Xia, which constitutes a genus of seaweeds that supply more than 60% of the world's agar and agarose. We have subcloned this cDNA into a bacterial expression cloning vector and characterized the enzyme activities of its recombinant proteins in vitro. The GcGALT gene was shown to be up-regulated by salinity stresses. The abundance of transcripts encoding GcGALT was the highest in G. changii, followed by Gracilaria edulis and Gracilaria salicornia in a descending order, corresponding to their respective agar contents. Our findings indicated that GALT could be one of the components that determines the agar yield in Gracilaria species.
Osmotic stress is one of the most significant natural abiotic stresses that occur in the intertidal zones. Seaweeds may physiologically acclimate to changing osmolarity by altering their transcriptome. Here, we investigated the transcriptomic changes of Gracilaria changii (B. M. Xia et I. A. Abbott) I. A. Abbott, J. Zhang et B. M. Xia in response to hyper- and hypoosmotic stresses using a cDNA microarray approach. Microarray analysis revealed that 199 and 200 genes from ∼3,300 genes examined were up- and down-regulated by >2-fold in seaweed samples treated at 50 parts per thousand (ppt) artificial seawater (ASW) compared with those at 30 ppt ASW, respectively. The number of genes that were up- and down-regulated by >2-fold in seaweed samples treated at 10 ppt ASW compared with those at 30 ppt ASW were 154 and 187, respectively. A majority of these genes were only differentially expressed under hyper- or hypoosmotic conditions, whereas 67 transcripts were affected by both stresses. The findings of this study have shed light on the expression profiles of many transcripts during the acclimation of G. changii to hyperosmotic and hypoosmotic conditions. This information may assist in the prioritization of genes to be examined in future studies.
Global warming and ozone depletion, and the resulting increase of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), have far-reaching impacts on biota, especially affecting the algae that form the basis of the food webs in aquatic ecosystems. The aim of the present study was to investigate the interactive effects of temperature and UVR by comparing the photosynthetic responses of similar taxa of Chlorella from Antarctic (Chlorella UMACC 237), temperate (Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 248) and tropical (Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 001) environments. The cultures were exposed to three different treatments: photosynthetically active radiation (PAR; 400-700 nm), PAR plus ultraviolet-A (320-400 nm) radiation (PAR + UV-A) and PAR plus UV-A and ultraviolet-B (280-320 nm) radiation (PAR + UV-A + UV-B) for one hour in incubators set at different temperatures. The Antarctic Chlorella was exposed to 4, 14 and 20°C. The temperate Chlorella was exposed to 11, 18 and 25°C while the tropical Chlorella was exposed to 24, 28 and 30°C. A pulse-amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometer was used to assess the photosynthetic response of microalgae. Parameters such as the photoadaptive index (Ek) and light harvesting efficiency (α) were determined from rapid light curves. The damage (k) and repair (r) rates were calculated from the decrease in ΦPSIIeff over time during exposure response curves where cells were exposed to the various combinations of PAR and UVR, and fitting the data to the Kok model. The results showed that UV-A caused much lower inhibition than UV-B in photosynthesis in all Chlorella isolates. The three isolates of Chlorella from different regions showed different trends in their photosynthesis responses under the combined effects of UVR (PAR + UV-A + UV-B) and temperature. In accordance with the noted strain-specific characteristics, we can conclude that the repair (r) mechanisms at higher temperatures were not sufficient to overcome damage caused by UVR in the Antarctic Chlorella strain, suggesting negative effects of global climate change on microalgae inhabiting (circum-) polar regions. For temperate and tropical strains of Chlorella, damage from UVR was independent of temperature but the repair constant increased with increasing temperature, implying an improved ability of these strains to recover from UVR stress under global warming.
The effect of ten microalgal chlorophytes isolated from mosquito breeding containers on the survival, larval development and adult body size of the mosquito Aedes aegypti was investigated. All larvae fed with six of the microalgal isolates died after 7 days. These isolates were found to be resistant to digestion by mosquito larvae. Delayed pupation and body size reduction of the mosquitos fed with Chlorococcum UMACC 218 and Scenedesmus UMACC 220 were observed. In contrast, larvae fed with Ankistrodesmus convolutus UMACC 101 and Chlorococcum UMACC 213 were bigger in size than those fed with normal insectory feed. The present study showed that microalgal chlorophytes have the potential to be used as larvicidal agents for mosquitos.
Microbial fuel cells operating with autotrophic microorganisms are known as biophotovoltaic devices. It represents a great opportunity for environmentally-friendly power generation using the energy of the sunlight. The efficiency of electricity generation in this novel system is however low. This is partially reflected by the poor understanding of the bioelectrochemical mechanisms behind the electron transfer from these microorganisms to the electrode surface. In this work, we propose a combination of electrochemical and fluorescence techniques, giving emphasis to the pulse amplitude modulation fluorescence. The combination of these two techniques allow us to obtain information that can assist in understanding the electrical response obtained from the generation of electricity through the intrinsic properties related to the photosynthetic efficiency that can be obtained from the fluorescence emitted. These were achieved quantitatively by means of observed changes in four photosynthetic parameters with the bioanode generating electricity. These are the maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm), alpha (α), light saturation coefficient (Ek) and maximum rate of electron transfer (rETRm). The relationship between the increases in the current density collected by the bioanode to the decrease of the rETRm values in the photosynthetic pathway for the two microorganisms was also discussed.
Fruit wastes constituting up to half of total fruit weight represent a large pool of untapped resources for isolation of starch with diverse applications. In this work, the possibility of isolating starch from tropical fruit wastes and its extended application as a natural coagulant was elucidated. Amongst the 12 various parts of fruit wastes selected, only jackfruit seeds contained more than 50% of total starch content. Using alkaline extraction procedures, starch has been successfully isolated from local jackfruit seeds with a yield of approximately 18%. Bell-shaped starch granules were observed under SEM with a granule size ranging from 1.1 to 41.6 μm. Detailed starch characteristics were performed to provide a comparison between the isolated seed starch and also conventional starches. Among them, chemical properties such as the content of starch, amylose, amylopectin and the corresponding molecular weights are some of the key characteristics which governed their performance as natural coagulants. The potential use of isolated seed starch as an aid was then demonstrated in both suspensions of kaolin (model synthetic system) and Chlorella sp. microalga (real-time application) with plausible outcomes. At optimized starch dosage of 60 mg/L, the overall turbidity removal in kaolin was enhanced by at least 25% at a fixed alum dosage of 2.1 mg/L. Positive turbidity and COD removals were also observed in the treatment of Chlorella suspensions. Starches which served as bridging agents aided in the linkage of neighbouring microflocs and subsequently, forming macroflocs through a secondary coagulation mechanism: adsorption and bridging.
In this present study, alcohol/salt liquid biphasic system was used to extract phlorotannin from brown macroalgae. Liquid biphasic system is a new green technology that integrated with various processes into one-step, by concentrating, separating and purifying the bioproduct in a unit operation. The solvent used is non-toxic and there is potential for solvent recovery which is beneficial to the environment. Phlorotannin is a bioactive compound that has gained much attention due to its health beneficial effect. Therefore, the isolation of phlorotannin is lucrative as it contains various biological activities that are capable to be utilised into food and pharmaceutical application. By using 2-propanol/ammonium sulphate system, the highest recovery of phlorotannin was 76.1% and 91.67% with purification factor of 2.49 and 1.59 from Padina australis and Sargassum binderi, respectively. A recycling study was performed and the salt phase of system was recycled where maximum salt recovery of 41.04% and 72.39% could be obtained from systems containing P. australis and S. binderi, respectively. Similar recovery of phlorotannin was observed after performing two cycles of the system, this concludes that the system has good recyclability and eco-friendly.
Many studies classifying Gracilaria species for the exploitation of agarophytes and the development of the agar industry were conducted before the prevalence of molecular tools, resulting in the description of many species based solely on their morphology. Gracilaria firma and G. changii are among the commercially important agarophytes from the western Pacific; both feature branches with basal constrictions that taper toward acute apices. In this study, we contrasted the morpho-anatomical circumscriptions of the two traditionally described species with molecular data from samples that included representatives of G. changii collected from its type locality. Concerted molecular analyses using the rbcL and cox1 gene sequences, coupled with morphological observations of the collections from the western Pacific, revealed no inherent differences to support the treatment of the two entities as distinct taxa. We propose merging G. changii (a later synonym) into G. firma and recognize G. firma based on thallus branches with abrupt basal constrictions that gradually taper toward acute (or sometimes broken) apices, cystocarps consisting of small gonimoblast cells and inconspicuous multinucleate tubular nutritive cells issuing from gonimoblasts extending into the inner pericarp at the cystocarp floor, as well as deep spermatangial conceptacles of the verrucosa-type. The validation of specimens under different names as a single genetic species is useful to allow communication and knowledge transfer among groups from different fields. This study also revealed considerably low number of haplotypes and nucleotide diversity with apparent phylogeographic patterns for G. firma in the region. Populations from the Philippines and Taiwan were divergent from each other as well as from the populations from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. Establishment of baseline data on the genetic diversity of this commercially important agarophyte is relevant in the context of cultivation, as limited genetic diversity may jeopardize the potential for its genetic improvement over time.
We report for the first time a photosynthetically active algae immobilized in alginate gel within a fuel cell design for generation of bioelectricity. The algal-alginate biofilm was utilized within a biophotovoltaics (BPV) device developed for direct bioelectricity generation from photosynthesis. A peak power output of 0.289 mWm-2 with an increase of 18% in power output compared to conventional suspension culture BPV device was observed. The increase in maximum power density was correlated to the maximum relative electron transport rate (rETRm). The semi-dry type of photosynthetically active biofilm proposed in this work may offer significantly improved performances in terms of fuel cell design, bioelectricity generation, oxygen production and CO2 reduction.