Investigation of the value-added potential of some selected freshwater cyanobacteria
Rapidly growing population together with environmental degradation leads to a rapid deterioration of global health and nutritional status. Nutritional inequality and harmful health impacts on skin due to the depletion of Ozone layer are among most prevailing health issues. Providing microorganism-based, sustainable solutions for these health concerns is an emerging trend. Cyanobacteria could be more promising among other natural botanicals, with higher photosynthetic ability, rapid growth, require less area and simple nutrients for growth, less capital investment, and zero environmental pollution. Therefore, this study was carried out to study macronutrients, micronutrients and Sun Protection Factor for exploring value added potential of freshwater cyanobacteria in providing sustainable solution to so called health issues. Eight selected cyanobacteria strains isolated from freshwater reservoirs in the Dry zone of Sri Lanka, were analyzed for total carbohydrate, protein, macro and micro minerals using Dubois’ method, Lowry method, and Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry. Mansur equation was applied to determine the Sun Protection Factor. The total carbohydrate and protein contents of isolates were in the range of 7.08 % - 53.08 % and 15.27 % - 49.77 % respectively. The highest total carbohydrate content (53.08 %) recorded in Oscillatoriales sp. was higher than some previously reported Oscillatoria species. Calcium was the highest among macro minerals while iron was the greatest followed by Mn, Zn, Cu, Co and Ni among all micro minerals. The highest Sun Protection Factor (1.57) recorded in Oscillatoriales sp. was also higher than some previously reported plant extracts; aloe vera, carrot, cucumber, watermelon and some coffee extracts. All strains showed considerably higher or similar sun screening properties compared to above reported herbal extracts. Cyanobacteria with rich nutrition profiles and Sun Protection Factors thus could be promising alternatives in providing sustainable and ecofriendly solutions to major health issues arisen with population growth.