Large scale cultivation of genetically modified microalgae: A new era for environmental risk assessment

Beacham, TA, Sweet, JB and Allen, MJ 2017 Large scale cultivation of genetically modified microalgae: A new era for environmental risk assessment. Algal Research, 25. 90 - 100.

The Era of Era_080317_marked_TB_clean.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (500kB) | Preview
Official URL:


The genetic modification of microalgal strains for enhanced or modified metabolic activity shows great promise for biotechnological exploitation. However, of key concern for many is the safety of GM technology and GMOs with regard to both the environment and human health, and how these concerns are met will play a key role in ensuring how successful commercialisation of GM algae is achieved. Commercialisation opportunities for GM microalgae will inevitably require translation from laboratory to industrial settings, on scales beyond those typically associated with the current biotechnology sector. Here we provide an overview of the current situation with regards to GM techniques and legislation, and the implications of large-scale cultivation with regards to developing a safe and effective risk assessment system for contained and uncontained activities. We discuss the rationale and options for modification and the implications for risks associated with scale up to human health and the environment, current grey areas in political/technical legislation, the use of contained/uncontained production systems, deliberate release and monitoring strategies. We conclude that while existing procedures are not entirely sufficient for accurate and exhaustive risk assessment, there exists a substantial knowledge base and expertise within the existing aquaculture, fermentation and (algal) biotechnology industries that can be combined and applied to ensure safe use in the future.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Genetic modification, Microalgae, Biotechnology, Environmental exposure, Hazard assessment, containment, Risk management
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Biochemistry and Observations
Depositing User: Dr Tracey Beacham
Date made live: 24 May 2018 08:26
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2020 09:58

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item