Role of Algae in Mitigating Impacts of Air, Soil, and Wastewater Pollution

by Simrat Kaur and Brad Reddersen. Presented at the 7th World Congress on Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering (CSEE’22), April 13-15, 2022

This paper won the "BEST PAPER AWARD" during the 7th World Congress on Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering (CSEE'22).


The environment is constantly deteriorating due to the presence of persistent and mobile air, water and soil pollutants that are altering and bringing disorder to the functioning of ecosphere. The ecosphere processes are inherently dependent on various groups of micro- and macro-organisms that play fundamental roles of production, decomposition, and fixation. One such heterogeneous group which is ubiquitously present in varied environments is the algae that comprise of both prokaryote and eukaryote photosynthetic organisms. The prokaryotic cyanobacteria or blue green algae have performed the cardinal evolutionary function of transforming the Earth’s reducing state into the oxidising and life supporting environment. Due to their ecological diversity, algae possess genomic blueprints that code for unique repertoire of enzymes, molecules and compounds some of which have been exploited; yet the copious bio wealth remain to be tapped. The unsurpassed bio-synthetic machinery performs evolutionary functions that make algae attractive for mitigating many unprecedented toxic environmental conditions. These organisms have biological properties that enable them to adapt to a variety of environmental perturbations such as nutrient starvation, oxidative, heavy metals and temperature stresses and desiccation. Various species of algae are capable of degrading polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, environmental hormones, polyethylene, and other class of persistent chemicals. Algae can be used to bio manufacture environmentally friendly products such as bioplastics, biofertilizers and biofuel. Along with bioengineering developments, the expansive understanding of algal biodiversity offers renewable resources of natural origin which is rapidly taking its place as a circular economy approach in integrated environmental restoration goals. Furthermore, algae mediated wastewater treatment offers cost effective bio remedial measures that subsequently reduce the carbon and water footprints in the environment.