Throughout the terrestrial plant life domain, the principle of empirically applied mass selection has been evolving towards varietal selection with the use of increasingly powerful selection tools that are – at least in part – transferable to microalgae.
In a similar way to the advances made over the last fifty years in agriculture, selecting strains or original populations of microalgae with good potential for targeted applications is key to the future industrial exploitation of these organisms. When selecting non-GMO varieties, the field for experimentation is extremely broad in terms of possible improvements: productivity, tolerance, produced molecules...
The ANR-funded SHAMASH project has succeeded in developing a microalgal selection technique that uses flow cytometry complemented by UV-C based mutation.This technique was first tested with Isochrysis sp. and resulted in a mutant population with a two folds higher triglyceride productivity whilst keeping its growing capacity.
These results are opening up new avenues for development. Hence, the laboratory is further focusing on staining particular biological characteristics so they can be tested to provide a better understanding of the potential of the species concerned, to fine-tune selection methodologies.