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Economic importance of Algae

Importance of Algae

Algae are a diverse group of bacterial and eukaryotic marine and fresh water creatures that all perform photosynthesis. Algae is economically significant in a variety of ways. The first example is that we may use the natural component from algae as a valuable source of food, fodder, and fertiliser in fish farming. 

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Positive Importance of Algae

economic importance of algae

In the process of alkaline reclamation, algae play a crucial role as they can be use as a soil binding agent and are present in various commercial goods. The determination and distinction of algae are based on the types of pigments they contain. While most algae thrive in aquatic bodies like marine or freshwater. Only a few limited types are ascertain in extreme environments such as snow, ice, or hot springs.

Economic Importance of algae as a food

Economic importance of algae
Source of Nutrition

Algae is regarded as an essential source of nutrition in many civilizations across the world. People in European countries including Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden, as well as some populations in North and South America and Asian countries like China and Japan, employ algae as a primary component in some local dishes.

Algae is regarded as a substance with such great nutritional content that it can be found in these meals as part of a salad, alongside meat in a fried dish, as a topping over muesli or even in liquid form as an extract in a nutritious smoothie. 

However, if we study about the dietary information regarding Algae. It contains a variety of nutritious ingredients such as carbs, lipids, proteins, and vitamins A, B, C, and E.

Low cost Source of Food

Algae is widely use for consumption in various culinary forms around the world. It is also recognise to be a very low-cost source of protein, as well as a variety of vital minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, and zinc.

Algae are also use as variety of dairy items, like ice creams, milk, paneer, variety of cheese, and cheese toppings as well as juices, syrups, and variety of salads.

These are popular in Japan and other Southeast Asian countries. Aonori from Monostroma, Kombu from Laminaria, and Asakusa-Nori from Porphyra tenera are all notable algal preparations. Laminaria is also widely produce in Japan and China. It is produce more like a crop plant.

Chlorella is also widely utilise for consumption. The cell of Chlorella is notable for its high protein and nutrient content (Single cell protein, SCP). It contains all of the amino acids popular to be in use for human and animal nutrition.

Importance of algae as a fodder or as a feed for animals

algae as a fodder or as a feed for animals
  • Seaweed, in particular, is use as fodder for a range of livestock species. 
  • Rhodymenia palmata, also known as “Sheep’s weed,” is made from Algae and is used to feed livestock such as cattle and poultry. 
  • Algae is widely in use as food for animals in various countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, as well as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, Australia, and United States of America.
  • Many countries have set up operations to turn seaweed into appropriate livestock feed. Eggs from hens fed seaweed meal have higher iodine levels, whereas milk from calves given seaweed meal has higher butterfat levels.

Economic Importance of algae as a Pisciculture

Economic importance of algae
  • Pisciculture, commonly known as fish farming, is the industry involve in the breeding and cultivation of fish. Fish farming, also known as pisciculture, incorporates algae into the whole production process. According to scientists, a number of fish species like consuming various forms of algae, with blue-green and green algae, as well as microalgae, being the most prevalent source of food for fish.
  • Floating plankton and zooplankton are the primary organisms on which the fish feed, and they provide a source of healthful vitamins. 
  • Algae are additionally in use during pisciculture as a new type of approach to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It simultaneously provides oxygen to the water, making the marine ecosystem more suitable for fish.
  • Algae, are the principal food source for fish and other aquatic organisms. Pond ecosystem for fish has become popular in many areas of the world, and they consume various types of algae.
  • Green algae, diatoms, and some blue-green algae are the most commonly consumed by fish.
  • It has recently been discovered that certain vitamins contained in fish can be linked back to the phytoplankton on which they eat. As a result, whether either directly or through infiltration, algae provide food for fish. At the same time, these algae make the water habitable for fish by consuming CO2 and supplementing it with oxygen through their photosynthesis process.

Economic Importance of algae as a Fertiliser

  • Large brown and red algae are utilised for natural fertilisers, particularly along coastlines. The weed can be eaten directly or as part of a seaweed food. 
  • A pure seaweed extract is also available as a liquid fertiliser. 
  • However, those belonging to the family Cyanophyceae have the greatest potential as a friend to farmers due to their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and thereby enrich the soil. 
  • They have been seen to create an effect on the fields of rice that is nearly identical to that of manuring with 30 kg of ammonium sulphate per acre.
  • The microorganism’s exceptional ability to restore the amount of nitrogen already present in the soil is the primary reason for its popularity. 
  • Rice farmers in India, for example, typically pick and apply blue-green algae to fertilise their fields.
  • Aulosira fertilissima, a typical blue-green algae that grows in Indian rice fields, has been found to add 47.6 pounds of nitrogen fixed per acre/crop.

Importance of algae as reclamation of alkaline ‘usar’ land

  • Because of the high alkalinity of the soil, generally known as ‘usar’ soil, enormous large portions of land in India cannot be cultivated for crops. 
  • The ‘usar’ lands would be cultivable if the pH is in balance. Thus the organic content and water retention capacity of the soil is raise. 
  • All of these services are performed by blue-green algae. During the period of heavy rainfall, blue-green algae, particularly, Anabaena, Nostoc and species of Aulosira
  • These algae, can be utilise for the restoration of ‘usar’ fields.
  • The procedure entails a succession of successive growths of the algal crop in a moist environment.

Economic Importance of algae in space research

  • Researchers are currently studying Chlorella in space for its effectiveness in maintaining pure air during long interplanetary voyages.
  • Chlorella, known for its ability to replenish oxygen in spacecraft, achieves this by being placed in a flood-lit container along with a mixture of water and nutritional compounds.
  • The stagnant air, concentrated with carbon dioxide, is actively delivered into the container where Chlorella engages in photosynthesis.
  • Through this process, Chlorella plays a crucial role in purifying the air within the spacecraft. Thus ensuring a sustainable and oxygen-rich environment for extended space journeys.

Importance of algae in medicine

  • Alaria was historically use for helping strengthen the stomach and restore hunger after illness. Alginates are uses for their haemostatic properties, while fucoidin and sodium lamanarin sulphate are use as “blood anticoagulants.” Digenia simplex, a Rhodophycean alga, produces an antihelminthic agent. Agar-agar is in use for medicinal purposes to prevent constipation due to its absorptive and lubricating properties.
  • Chlorellin, an antibacterial substance derived from Chlorella, functions as an antibiotic. The antibacterial effects are stronger against coliforms and other gut bacteria.
  • CladophoraLyngbya, and other algae extracts destroy Pseudomonas and Mycobacterium strains and have antiviral action.

Importance of algae in sewage disposal

  • Sewage is water-borne household and industrial waste that is high in dissolved or suspended organic and inorganic elements but low in oxygen. 
  • Chlamydomonas, Scenedesmus, Chlorella, and Euglena species are in use for sewage treatment plants to provide the oxygen required for bacteria to decompose sewage quickly.
  • Bacteria degrade the sewage component of complex organic chemicals into simple inorganic compounds such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, and water with the required amount of oxygen.
  • The essential oxygen can be supply artificially, which is rather expensive, or through the photosynthetic algae that develop in sewage disposal ponds.
  • Chlamydomonas, Scenedesmus, Chlorella, Euglena, Eudorina, and Pandorina are the most frequent algae species found in sewage oxidation ponds.

Economic Importance of algae in commercial products

Economic Importance of algae in commercial products

Many Phaeophyceae and Rhodophyceae aquatic algae are extremely valuable for industrial products such as agar-agar, acid from algae (alginic acid), and carrageenin. 

1. Agar-agar (Agar)

Numerous red algae, such as Gelidium, Gracilaria, Chondrus, Gigartina, and others, make agar-agar. It constitutes a virtually entirely mucilaginous, non-nitrogenous extract. The primary ingredient of agar is a carbohydrate (galactan). Manufacturers market purified agar as flakes or granules that are fragile when dry but become robust and resistant when moistened. Agar finds wide applications in microbiology and tissue culture. Where it serves as a gelling agent in culture media for growing algae, fungi, and bacteria in laboratories. Various industries use it, including cosmetics, paper and silk production, dentistry. For impression making the manufacturing of ice cream, jellies, candies, and baked goods.

2. Carrageenin

  • This is a biochemical product ascertain by Chondrus crispus, Gigartina stellata, and Iridaea laminaroides that is comparable to agar.
  • Mucilage is in use for textile manufacturing and paper making as a strengthening agent. It is also in use for the production of straw and felt hats for the same purpose. Additionally, mucilage is an ingredient in beauty products, shoe polishes, hand lotions, and toothpaste, serving as an emulsifying and removing agent. It finds application in the baking and dairy industries, as well as in the clarification of liquors.

3. Algin and Alginates

  • The intercellular material of Phaeophyceae contains algin. It is a calcium magnesium salt of alginic acid widely in use for various industries its unique colloidal characteristics.
  • Industry utilizes alginic acid and its derivatives, found in the Phaeophyceae, to produce a diverse array of products such as ice cream, salad cream, custard, jams, cosmetics, films, fabrics, ceramics, textiles, polishes, and paints.
  • Manufacturers employ alginic acid salts as a suspending ingredient in pharmaceuticals, lotions, and emulsions. Additionally, the rubber industry utilizes them in the creation of latex, as insulating material, and as dental impression powder.

Negative Importance of Algae

What Is The Economic Importance of Algae

Toxicity and Parasitism

  • Fish and domestic animals that drink water contaminated with Gymnodinium veneficumPrymnesium parvum, and Microcystis species die. 
  • Some species, like Gonyaulax, produce endotoxins that accumulate in the digestive glands of shellfish consuming them. If other creatures, including people, swallow such shellfish, the endotoxins can cause paralysis and even death.
  • Blue-green algae that bloom, such as Microcystis aeruginosa and Anabaena flos-aquae, is use as to poison animals in temperate regions.
  • If certain varieties of toxic planktonic algae are use for consumption, they may cause a variety of illness symptoms. Some Anabaena and Microcystis species, for example, cause gastrointestinal problems. Gymnodinium brevis causes respiratory problems. Lyngbya and Chlorella cause skin diseases.
  • Excessive growth of certain algae, such as Microcystis aeruginosa, in a body of water frequently results in significant oxygen depletion in the environment. 
  • Suffocation kills a large number of fish as a result of this. 
  • High temperatures and direct sunlight can cause huge breakdown of algal blooms, releasing toxic chemicals into the medium. 
  • The choking of fish’s mouths or gills by these algae is also a contributing factor to their demise.

Fouling of marine vessels

  • Some marine weeds can grow on ship and boat metal hulls and woodwork, corroding and destroying them. 
  • Weed growth can cause a substantial rise in friction between the outer shell and the water. Thus it highlighting wear and tear and decreasing the vessel’s life.

FAQs on Economic importance of Algae

Q2. How is algae use as a food feed and in the industry?

Ans. The use of algae in the food industry. Algae was once utilised as a food ingredient in meat-processing factories to improve shape and taste. With the introduction of synthetic meat, algae with high protein content have emerged as a fresh source of high-quality protein.

Q3. Why is algae important in biotechnology?

Ans. Microalgae are a rich source of bioactive chemicals that can be use in commercial applications. Algae supply a variety of pharmacy goods, proteins, vaccines, and nutrients. That are otherwise unavailable or too expensive to create from animal and plant sources.

Q4. Can humans consume algae?

Ans. Algae is one potential alternative food source, both for us and the animals we feed. For thousands of years, humans have consumed macroalgae such as wakame and nori seaweed.

Read Also: Shale Gas: The “Sanjeevani” for Indian Fuel Pangs?

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