Algal aquaculture is developing exponentially worldwide, with multiple applications in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Current research in algal biotechnology mostly focuses on metabolite discovery, aquaculture yield improvement and engineering bottlenecks. However, agronomical experience shows that controlling the interaction of land crops with mutualistic or pathogenic microbes is most critical to successful production. Similarly, controlling the microbial flora associated with algae (the ‘algal microbiome’) is emerging as the biggest biological challenge for their increased usage. Bacteria can control the morphogenesis of algae, while others are indispensable to algal survival. Pathogens are causing devastating diseases, the impact of which worsens with the intensification of aquaculture practices.
The overarching aim of ALFF is to training 15 ESRs (researchers) within a multinational consortium whilst bringing a fundamental scientific change in our understanding of these interactions, leading to the development of superior mass algal cultivation and biocontrol strategies.
As shown in the figure below, ALFF’s research activities are grouped into closely inter-connected ‘Work Packages’ that relate to the nature and function of algal-microbial interactions, underpinned by bioinformatics tool development and data integration activties. PhD projects led by the private sector are shown in pink and the non-academic contribution towards co-supervision of ESRs is shown for each work package.
The scientific organisation of ALFF: