Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1477–1486 | Cite as

Antioxidant potential of microalgae in relation to their phenolic and carotenoid content

  • Koen GoirisEmail author
  • Koenraad Muylaert
  • Ilse Fraeye
  • Imogen Foubert
  • Jos De Brabanter
  • Luc De Cooman


In the past decades, food scientists have been searching for natural alternatives to replace synthetic antioxidants. In order to evaluate the potential of microalgae as new source of safe antioxidants, 32 microalgal biomass samples were screened for their antioxidant capacity using three antioxidant assays, and both total phenolic content and carotenoid content were measured. Microalgae were extracted using a one-step extraction with ethanol/water, and alternatively, a three-step fractionation procedure using successively hexane, ethyl acetate, and water. Antioxidant activity of the extracts varied strongly between species and further depended on growth conditions and the solvent used for extraction. It was found that industrially cultivated samples of Tetraselmis suecica, Botryococcus braunii, Neochloris oleoabundans, Isochrysis sp., Chlorella vulgaris, and Phaeodactylum tricornutum possessed the highest antioxidant capacities in this study and thus could be a potential new source of natural antioxidants. The results from the different types of extracts clearly indicated that next to the well-studied carotenoids, phenolic compounds also contribute significantly to the antioxidant capacity of microalgae.


Microalgae Antioxidant capacity Phenolic content Carotenoid content 



This study was funded by the Industrial Research Fund of K.U.Leuven (project number IOF-KPH/09/002) and the Fund for Scientific Research (project G.A129.11 N). The authors wish to thank Maris projects, Necton S.A. and SBAE industries for providing algal biomass samples. Colette Cooreman and Bart Dewaele are acknowledged for their technical assistance. I. Fraeye is a Postdoctoral Researcher funded by the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Koen Goiris
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Koenraad Muylaert
    • 3
  • Ilse Fraeye
    • 4
  • Imogen Foubert
    • 4
  • Jos De Brabanter
    • 5
  • Luc De Cooman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.KAHO Sint-Lieven, Laboratory of Enzyme, Fermentation, and Brewing TechnologyGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Centre (LFoRCe), Department M2S, K. U. LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Research unit Aquatic BiologyK.U.Leuven KulakKortrijkBelgium
  4. 4.Research unit Food and LipidsK.U.Leuven KulakKortrijkBelgium
  5. 5.Departement Industrieel IngenieurKAHO Sint-LievenGhentBelgium

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