The Spanish Bank of Algae (BEA) is a research infrastructure of the Universidad of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria managed by the Canarian Science and Technology Park Foundation (FCPCT). Their general objectives are the isolation, characterisation, conservation, supply and development of cultivation and processing techniques as well as applications of microalgae and cyanobacteria from a scientific-technological point of view. BEA is a member of the European Culture Collections’ Organization (ECCO) and the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC). It is also part of the World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WFCC-MIRCEN), being accredited by the Spanish Kingdom as an international authority for the deposit of microorganisms (IDA by WIPO), in accordance with the provisions established under the Budapest Treaty. Research and development services are provided to companies, research institutions and technological development centres, to facilitate the implementation of initiatives and projects essentially related to industry and research on microalgae and cyanobacteria.
On an area of 1800 m2, BEA facilities include a building, which holds several laboratories, the microalgae and cyanobacteria collection and a greenhouse for experimental assay and demonstration of algae (micro- and macroalgae) cultivation technologies.
The BEA unit holds a secure area containing a standard laboratory fully equipped for microalgae work; controlled growth rooms, incubators, a clean culture transfer area with 4 laminar flow hoods and inverted microscopes; control rate -150 ºC freezer, ultrasound sensor, centrifuge. A microscopy laboratory holding different high technology microscope and stereomicroscope, both with fluorescence attachment. Surrounding the collection unit, 4 different laboratories hold: (1) the molecular biology and physiology unit; (2) the biotechnology unit for the development of lab and pilot scale macroalgae and microalgae culture work including a 50m2 growth room; (3) an algal processing and extraction laboratory for paste concentrates, powder and extracts preparation and characterization; and (4) a flow cytometry laboratory including a Sony SH800 Cell Separator and a Beckman Coulter Quanta.
The 300m2 greenhouse pilot scale facility for mass culture of micro- and macroalgae includes 5 raceways (3 x 8 m2; 2 x 30 m2); tanks from 50 to 1500 L; vertical tubular photobioreactors from 30 to 400 L. Freshwater and seawater continuous flow are available as well as pumped-forced air and CO2 control. For pilot scale biomass processing a GEA-Westfalia continuous-flow centrifuge, a Niro mobile Minor spray dryer and laboratory-scale freeze-dryers are available as well as freezers for biomass storage.
Promotion and dissemination of scientific and technological activities in the algal biotechnology sector is a priority for BEA.
Strains of microalgae from tropical and subtropical regions are conserved at BEA, particularly from the Macaronesian region. This strains collection (> 2000 clonal strains) offers enormous potential for the development of applied research and industrial applications, allowing companies, scientific groups, and institutions around the world access to unique genetic resources, not yet explored, for their application in biotechnological processes, essentially in the areas of:
- Energy (Biofuels)
- Health and wellness (Pharmaceutical, Biomedicine, Cosmetics)
- Nutrition (human and animal) and nutraceutical
- Industrial processes
In parallel, BEA is committed to its own research and technology (development and innovation) program, attending to the following priority strategic lines:
- Conservation of Biodiversity of microalgae and cyanobacteria
- Polyphasic identification of the isolated strains
- Technological development for the production, identification, and characterization of bioactive compounds of microalgae and cyanobacteria
- Characterization, biotechnological and biochemical
valorization of biomass, and production of extracts from the strains
in the collection aimed at the following thematic lines:
- Agricultural biostimulants
- Bioremediation, biodiversity, and environment
- Bioactive substances (antibiotics, antivirals, antitumor, antifungals)
- Industrial applications of algal pigments
- Metabolites for the cosmetic industry
- Algae and functional metabolites for Food / Nutrition / Health
- Algae for animal consumption and aquaculture
BEA has fully equipped laboratories (microscopes, flow cytometers, centrifuges, flow chambers, fluorimeters, etc.) and culture chambers. It also has a culture plant and greenhouse of about 300 square meters fitted with culture systems such as tanks and photobioreactors of different volumes (50-400L) for the culture of microalgae as well as raceways-type culture tanks of fixed structures: three 8-square meter long raceways and two 30-square meter long raceways. It also has movable units of macroalgae culture fiber and polycarbonate tanks (750 - 1500 l).