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Nannochloropsis gaditana have mostly been known from the marine environment but also occur in fresh and brackish water. They are small, nonmotile spheres which do not express any distinct morphological feature, and cannot be distinguished by either light or electron microscopy.
The algae of the genus Nannochloropsis differ from other related microalgae in that they have chlorophyll a and completely lack chlorophyll b and chlorophyll c. In addition, they are able to build up a high concentration of a range of pigments such as astaxanthin, zeaxanthin and canthaxanthin. They have a diameter of about 2 to 3 micrometers and a very simple ultrastructure with reduced structural elements compared to neighbouring taxa.
Nannochloropsis is considered a promising alga for industrial applications because of its ability to accumulate high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Moreover, it shows promising features that can allow genetic manipulation aimed at the genetic improvement of the current oleaginous strains.
Nannochloropsis gaditana is mainly used as an energy-rich food source for fish larvae and rotifers. Nevertheless, it has raised growing interest also for the investigation of biofuel production from photosynthetic organisms.
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