Background: The consideration of ecological principles has brought new ideas that can be implemented to achieve sustainable production of algal biomass at the commercialscale. In particular, the key ideas of top-down control of algal pests and the potential advantages of diversifying algal crops have encouraged researchers to explore foodweb interactions in algal biomass cultivation platforms, and to investigate the characteristics of algal strains that could be used to assemble designed, multi-species consortia that outperform algal monocultures.
Objective/Methods: To explore the practical applications of top-down control of algal pests and algal crop diversification, this paper reviews literature on agricultural and aquatic systems with consideration of the implementations of these ecological principles in managing commercial-scale algal cultivation.
Results: Our review suggests that careful management of food-web structure in algal cultivation platforms will be needed to maximize crop protection, and that temporal and spatial diversification of algal crops may also benefit industrial algal biofuels production. Extensive domestication and genetic improvements of algal strains are currently underway worldwide, and we suggest that careful selection of endogenous algal community which proliferates under selective environmental condition has the potential to engineer algal communities of high commercial interest.
Conclusion: Overall, our review suggests that the careful management of food-web structure and algal crop diversity, as well as experiences and insights from modern agriculture can be used to guide the design and operation of industrial-scale algal biomass production systems. We urge thorough experimental tests of these ideas in both laboratory and field settings.