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Microalgae are a diverse group of highly productive photosynthetic organisms that can synthesize various metabolites of commercial value requiring only sunlight, CO2, and other basic nutrients for their growth. They are an eco-friendly, renewable, and sustainable bioresource for food, feed, fuel, and healthcare products.

Although the enormous potential of microalgae to provide food and energy security in future has been well known, microalgal research has to pass through various challenges before microalgae are shaped into an economically viable industry. Bioprospecting of strains, pure culture, cultivation optimization for high biomass productivity, cost effective downstream processes, synthetic biology tools for strain engineering, designing efficient photobioreactors, regulatory challenges associated especially with the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) algae, and socio-economic concerns pertaining to consumption of algae or products derived from algae are some of the challenges hindering the advancement of the microalgal industry.

The book covers the most recent and consolidated information in the field of microalgal biotechnology with special emphasis on understanding microalgae as a renewable and sustainable platform for synthetic biology. This will be helpful to a wide group of audience that includes scientists, academic professors, students, industrialists, policy makers, and market strategists to understand the current status and scope of ‘microalgal biotechnology’, and gather knowledge on progress and gap regarding commercial viability in diverse market sectors.

The book has 10 chapters for the readers to explore the fundamental aspects and the recent advances in applied microalgal biotechnology. Each chapter is uniquely placed having the information to enrich the reader's knowledge. Chapters 1–3 form the base of this book as they cover the importance of microalgae as a renewable and sustainable bioresource, their metabolic networks, and challenges in harnessing the full value through biorefinery. Chapters 4–6 summarize the developments in genetic engineering tools and their applications, including that of CRISPR, with an emphasis on the commercial trends. Chapters 7 and 8 cover the trends of microalgal CO2 fixation, and production of valuable metabolites from GM microalgae. In the end, Chapter 9 covers important aspects of consumption related safety issues, current regulations, and socio-economic and environmental concerns of transgenic algae and their products. Chapter 10 provides concise information on commercialized products and their market claims in five major sectors – food and nutraceuticals, animal feed, cosmetics, agriculture, and bioenergy.

Together, by addressing various scientific and techno-economic challenges, we could help in closing the gaps and contribute towards establishing the microalgal biotechnology industry for an eco-friendly and carbon-neutral economy.

Shekh and Dasgupta

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