Algae biostimulants: A critical look at microalgal biostimulants for sustainable agricultural practices

For the growing human population to be sustained during present climatic changes, enhanced quality and quantity of crops are essential to enable food security worldwide. The current consensus is that we need to make a transition from a petroleum-based to a bio-based economy via the development of a sustainable circular economy and biorefinery approaches. Both macroalgae (seaweeds) and microalgae have been long considered a rich source of plant biostimulants with an attractive business opportunity in agronomy and agro-industries. To date, macroalgae biostimulants have been well explored. In contrast, microalgal biostimulants whilst known to have positive effects on development, growth and yields of crops, their commercial implementation is constrained by lack of research and cost of production. The present review highlights the current knowledge on potential biostimulatory compounds, key sources and their quantitative information from algae. Specifically, we provide an overview on the prospects of microalgal biostimulants to advance crop production and quality. Key aspects such as specific biostimulant effects caused by extracts of microalgae, feasibility and potential of co-cultures and later co-application with other biostimulants/ biofertilizers are highlighted. An overview of the current knowledge, recent advances and achievements on extraction techniques, application type, application timing, current market and regulatory aspects are also discussed. Moreover, aspects involved in circular economy and biorefinery approaches are also covered, such as: integration of waste resources and implementation of high-throughput phenotyping and -omics tools in isolating novel strains, exploring synergistic interactions and illustrating the underlying mode of microalgal biostimulant action. Overall, this review highlights the current and future potential of microalgal biostimulants, algal biochemical components behind these traits and finally bottlenecks and prospects involved in the successful commercialisation of microalgal biostimulants for sustainable agricultural practices.


Kapoore RV, Wood EE, Llewellyn CA

Biotechnology Advances 49
04, 21, 2021
Pages: 107754
DOI: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2021.107754