What are cyanobacteria?
Cyanobacteria are the first photosynthetic organisms to appear on Earth. They permitted the creation of a breathable atmosphere thanks to their production of oxygen. These are microorganisms that do not have a nucleus in their cells. They contain green pigments, chlorophylls, and blue pigments, phycocyanins. These are characteristic of cyanobacteria and give them a blue-green colour. These organisms use CO2 as a carbon source via photosynthesis. The habitats of cyanobacteria are quite varied. These organisms can withstand a wide range of salinity (hypersaline lakes, oligotrophic lakes, etc.), temperature (glaciers and thermal springs), pH and light (caves or deep waters, etc.).
The first traces of consumption of cyanobacteria for human consumption date back to the Aztecs. They harvested Spirulina from Taxcoco Lake using fine nets. The biomass was then dried in the sun and used to make blue bread rolls called Tecuitlatl. At that time, athletes consumed dried Spirulina to help their bodies maintain their level of performance. For centuries, Spirulina has also been consumed in the form of dried pancakes, called Dihé, near Lake Chad to fight against malnutrition.
But beware! Certain cyanobacteria release cyanotoxins which are sometimes fatal for animals and dangerous for humans. Unlike algae, several species of cyanobacteria store natural poisons called cyanotoxins in their cells. These toxins are released into water when the cell ruptures or dies. Contact or ingestion of water contaminated with too many cyanobacteria or cyanotoxins can cause health problems.
Western countries are now also interested in growing cyanobacteria and microalgae. These strains are mainly sold as food supplements. In fact, it’s currently the main way of deriving value from cyanobacteria such as Spirulina or the Klamath strain. This market for food supplements has an estimated worth of 60 billion euros worldwide, and 1.3 billion euros in France (2013 value). The nutraceutical market has seen steady growth for twenty years thanks to the increased consumption of food supplements, dietary products, drinks and functional foods linked, in particular (but not only), to the increase in the number of athletes. Consumers are now increasingly concerned with the composition and origin of the products they ingest. This is why many of them turn to proteins of plant origin and, thus, to microalgae and cyanobacteria, in which up to 70% of their dry matter may contain proteins.
Phycocyanin is the combination of proteins, phycobiliproteins, and water-soluble pigments from photosynthesis, phycocyanobilins. This favourable association has the capacity to absorb orange and red light in wavelengths close to 620 nm and to emit fluorescence at around 650nm. This means that phycocyanin is the only blue pigment naturally present in spirulina.
In order to provide all of its nutraceutical properties to the human body, these pigments must be separated from proteins. In the consumption of dry spirulina (flakes or capsules), the absorption of phycocyanins is the result of approximately 4 hours of dissociation after ingestion. This length of time, without removing the benefits of spirulina, does not allow you to derive maximum value from the benefits of phycocyanins. Upstream extraction of phycocyanin from the spirulina biomass, and then its conservation in sterile liquid, in particular, permit much more effective absorption by the body.
It is around this project that AlgoSource has developed all of its know-how for almost three decades.
AlgoSource is a pioneer in the production and processing of spirulina in France. It has exercised its expertise on the subject for almost three decades by cultivating this microalga, with meticulous attention, in production basins located in the heart of the salt marshes, in the Guérande peninsula.
Within its specialized unit located in the medieval city, it offers the market the only liquid extract of cold-sterilized, 100% natural spirulina, without solvents or chemicals: Spirulysat® Today, AlgoSource is one of the very few microalgae specialists in the world to be present throughout the entire value chain: from culture to water extraction to sterile packaging.