Microalgae have been around for millions of years. They play an essential role in the CO2 cycle and form the food base for all marine life. Some of them are less related than humans and mushrooms. The sizes range from 1µm to 400µm. This corresponds to a difference in size from fish to Eiffel Tower.
Only a few 10,000 species are known to date. However, it is estimated that there are still around 150,000 undescribed algae strains worldwide. Of the species known to date, around 20 are used today for the industrial production of ingredients for food supplements and animal feed, care products, oils or pharmaceuticals.
Microalgae are often confused with cyanobacteria. The latter are also incorrectly referred to as ‘blue-green algae’ and are often found in so-called algal blooms. Their bluish color pigments give them their cyan appearance. Since they are bacteria (prokaryotes) that do photosynthesis, they are not considered to be microalgae (eukaryotes). However, they are already used for industrial purposes (e.g. Spirulina).