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Flow NMR-based online biochemical control of microalgae cultivated in photobioreactor for spatial food supply



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
01 January 2024

Duration: 36 months


In the SPACE-ALG project, we propose to employ recognized Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) technologies for the autonomous, reliable and easy on-line monitoring of the metabolism of microalgae cultivated in photobioreactors involved in the ESA MELiSSA Project (Micro-Ecological Life Support System). The targeted application will fill in the gap existing actually for the autonomous and reliable monitoring of the metabolic deviation occurring in those cultivation systems. We objectivate to extend and generalize to eukaryotic microalgae including cyanobacteria like Limnospira platensis (i.e. the Spirulina, the cyanobacteria selected in MELISSA) the analytical capabilities of the miniaturized and mobile NMR systems compatible with spatial modules for the on-line analysis of their total lipids and carbohydrates. This will pave the road for their in-situ identification and quantification in real time upon different environmental conditions. Nantes University has recently developed a proof of concept using such a mobile NMR device to monitor the total lipid content in living parachlorella kessleri 1,2,3,4]. For the first time, it was possible to quantify on-line, without any sampling nor chemical treatment, the total lipids in cells during 15 days of cultivation (Figure 1). Usually for such analysis, sampling time, chemical treatment and quantitative analysis need at least 5 days when performed by an experienced chemical engineer. In our prototype system, it was performed automatically in one hour. The data of the portable system will be validated by comparison with the highly resolutive and more sensitive high field NMR, our best ally to obtain certified information on the metabolites produced by microalgae (Figure 2). As far as we know, the proposed idea would be a novelty that has never been reached before, opening very promising perspectives for autonomous self-optimized sophisticated monitoring tool on living organisms as food sources for astronauts.

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Flow NMR-based online biochemical control of microalgae cultivated in photobioreactor for spatial food supply