Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSM)

What is a Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM)?

  • The aim is to promote exchange (mobility) within an Action’s scientific objectives.
  • A STSM allows a scientist (specially early career investigators – ECIs) to visit a lab in another country of the COST Action to learn new techniques, gain access to specific data, instruments or make measurements using instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions/organizations.
  • Period: min. 5 working days and max. 3 months. For ECIs up to 6 months
  • max. contribution for a mission of 3 months is 2500 Euros or up to 6 months and 3500 Euros for ECIs


Who can apply?

  • PhD-students, Early Career Researchers (researcher whose career spun less than 8 years between the date of the PhD/doctorate (or similar experience) and the date of involvement in the COST Action)
  • Researchers with their lab in one of the current member states of this COST Action
  • Researchers with a proposal related to the topic of this COST Action

How do I apply?

  • Calls with all the relevant information will be issued on a regular basis and will be published on the Action´s website
  • Submit application form and required documentation including before the closing date of the call

For further information on STSMs contact the EUAlgae STSM Coordinator Dr Dominik Refardt.




Approved applications for STSMs

You can see the approved applications for STSMs here. Click on each title to display the STSM.


Grantee: Yaiza Tejido Núñez, Water and Health Division, Ceit-IK4, Spain        

Host: Dr. Dominik Refardt, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Natural Resource Sciences, Switzerland

Duration: 6 August 2018 – 28 September 2018


In this Short Scientific Mission a Chlorella vulgaris and Tetradesmus obliquus consortium performance was tested in a pilot scale open thin-layer photobioreactor (TL-PBR) located at the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). Water directly from fish tank of a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) was used in order to determine the yield using this consortium (nutrient removal, biomass growth) and the interactions between both microalgae (changes in population) and protozoa and bacteria presence. Parallel to TL-PBR cultivation, lab-experiments were also carried out using same consortium in non-sterile and sterile fish tank water. Results pointed to the importance of choosing the right microalgae species taking into account water characteristics (including the presence of predators) and caution that its neglection can cause results to reverse with corresponding consequences.

Being back at Switzerland to continue my previous work has been very enriching and I would like to thank again all people from ZHAW that made the continuation of my research possible.

GP4: Utilization of volatile fatty acids produced through anaerobic digestion of microalgae biomass as culture media for yeasts with energy purposes

Grantee: Mercedes Llamas Redondo, Fundacion IMDEA Energia, Spain

Host: University of Patras, Greece

Duration: 25 June 2018 – 22 September 2018


I did a short term scientific mission (STSM) at University of Patras in Greece. There, I was focused in revalorization of anaerobic digestion (AD) effluent from microalgae biomass rich in VFAs, as culture medium for oleaginous yeast with energy purposes. During these three months, I did a screening of five oleaginous yeast strains (Yarrowia lipolytica, Williopsis saturnus, Rhodosporidium toruloides, Lipomyces lipofer and Cryptococcus curvatus) evaluating their growth and lipid accumulation capacity cultured on AD effluent at 5, 10 and 15 g/L of VFAs. Finally, the best strain selected (W.saturnus) was cultured in a 5 L bioreactor to evaluate it behaviour when increasing the scale operation.


Grantee: Jose Antonio Magdalena, Fundacion IMDEA Energia, Spain

Host: Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delf, Netherlands

Duration: 25 June 2018 – 22 September 2018


My short term scientific mission (STSM) was carried out at Delft university of technology. There I learnt how to operate an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) and its design for a process devoted for VFAs production from microalgae. In parallel, effluent samples from a reactor operated at 15 g COD L-1d-1 of microalgae (Chlorella vulgaris) and psychrophilic temperature (25ºC) were collected at IMDEA Energy and sent to TU Delft for their characterization towards a hypothetical membrane process filtration. Finally, a membrane process named electrodialysis (ED) in which anionic and cationic membranes were involved was applied to test the transport and concentration of the VFAs and other compounds such as ammonium present in the digested effluent of microalgae.

GP4: Isolation, identification and characterization of growth performance and metabolite accumulation using vibrational spectroscopy in Swedish microalgae strains naturally occurring in urban wastewater

Grantee: MSc Vladimira Seman, University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Agriculture, Serbia

Host: Dr Christiane Funk, Umea Univsersity, Sweden

Duration: 15 September 2018 – 30 November 2018


The main purpose of the STSM at Umeå University was to isolate algal strains from local urban wastewater sample and grow algae to produce enough biomass for planned analyzes. Selection some of the most promising strains, stressed them out and do the fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy to quantify the main biomass components (lipids, carbohydrates and proteins) changes during stress. Grow on agar plates naturally inhabited wastewater algae in order to perform genetic identification and learn how to isolate ribosomal DNA and do PCR.

GP4: Harvesting of microalgae-bacterial biomass from biogas upgrading system using cellulose magnetic hybrid nanomaterial

Grantee: Mª del Rosario Rodero Raya, Valladolid University, Spain

Host: Aquatic Biology Lab, KU Leuven campus Kortrijk, Belgium

Duration: 7 January 2019 – 28 February 2019


The purpose of my STMS was to develop a flocculation based harvesting of a microalgae-bacterial consortium used for biogas upgrading and wastewater treatment. To achieve this objective, different flocculants were tested, being selected Zetag and cationic nanocellulose for their high flocculation efficiency. The selected flocculants were further tested in a repeated recycling of the spent medium in a cyclic batch culture system in order to evaluate their effect on the growth of microalgal consortium. I really appreciate this opportunity to work in the Aquatic Biology research group of KU Leuven. This experience was very enriching and rewarding in both, professional and personal aspect, allowing me to learn new techniques and very useful methodologies for my future work, at the same time that it gave me the opportunity to meet great colleagues.

GP4: Potential biotechnological exploitation of secondary metabolites produced by cyanobacteria

Grantee: Donata Overlinge, Marine Research Institute, University of Klaipeda, Lithuania

Host: Department of Marine Biotechnology, University of Gdansk, Poland

Duration: 10 September 2018 – 10 October 2018


I am second course PhD student Donata Overlinge, from Marine Research Institute, University of Klaipeda, Lithuania. I have had an opportunity to participate in Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) on 10 of September – 10 of October 2018. All requirements related to participation in COST action ES1408 European network for algal-bioproducts (EUALGAE) were easy to understand. My STSM topic was “Potential biotechnological exploitation of secondary metabolites produced by cyanobacteria”. The main tasks through STSM were to assess the activity of cyanobacteria crude extracts, fractions against antibiotic resistant bacteria and enzymatic assay, also to identify active compounds by LC-MS/MS. Host institution, Division of Marine Biotechnology, University of Gdansk, Poland, prof. habil. dr. Hanna Mazur-Marzec has high experience and proper skills to perform with different LC-MS/MS analysis, to perform various assays. Also, Division of Marine Biotechnology has cultures of antibiotic resistant bacteria. I have had a huge opportunity to learn from highly educated specialists. All work in laboratories were perfectly planned. The results obtained during STSM, already were presented during ICTC11 conference that took place on 5-10 of May in Krakow, Poland. Thank You COST Action for such an opportunity 😊

GP4: The effect of night temperature on Nannochloropsis oceanica’s dark side

Grantee: Mariana Ribeiro Carneiro, Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Portugal

Host: Institute of Ecosystem Study (ISE), CNR, Italy

Duration: 20 June 2018 – 14 September 2018


The goal of this experimental work was to study the effect of different temperatures on biomass yield and biochemical composition during dark cycles. To this effect, biomass of Nannochloropsis oceanica was grown and afterwards inoculated on 50L tubular reactor outdoors where it was subjected to a controlled light/dark cycle under different temperatures. I believe that this research synergy was very fruitful in terms of results and that also left an open window for publication and future collaborations.

GP4: Evaluation of the extraction of astaxanthin from locally isolated H.pluvialis assisted by Pulsed electric fields

Grantee: Juan Manuel Martínez, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

Host: Umea University, Sweden

Duration: 15 September 2018 – 30 November 2018


The unicellular freshwater green microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is one of the most important natural sources of the high-value carotenoid astaxanthin. This pigment is used in industrial aquaculture as feed additive for salmons, trout, and crustaceans to provide their characteristic pink/red color. Besides, astaxanthin strong antioxidant properties are recognized in therapeutic applications.

The biosynthesis of this carotenoid is associated with the formation of a very thick, three-layered cell wall that limits the bio-availability of astaxanthin when consumed orally. Therefore astaxanthin has to be extracted from the cyst before its use. Traditionally carotenoids are extracted from dried algal biomass using organic solvents, however, the high energy amount required for drying, oxidation of the products and the use of potentially harmful organic solvents are disadvantageous. Consequently, extraction from moist biomass would be preferred, although it involves previous disruption of the cells.

Pulsed electric fields (PEF) consist in the application of intermittent high intensity electric field pulses of short duration (µs-ms) to a material placed between two electrodes. PEF causes electroporation (increment of membrane permeability) and thus it enhances the mass transfer through the cytoplasmic membrane. During this short term scientific mission, we proposed PEF treatment as a sustainable and efficient cell disruption method to selectively extract astaxanthin from fresh biomass of H. pluvialis.

The Nordic microalgal strain Haematococcus pluvialis grown in a multi-cultivator photobioreactor was exposed to various stress conditions such as high light (200-1000 µmol·s-1·m-2), salt (5-10 g·L-1 NaCl), sudden nitrogen starvation and mixotrophic growth in the presence of xylose or glucose to induce astaxanthin accumulation. The efficiency of Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) pre-treatment of stressed fresh biomass of H. pluvialis followed by aqueous incubation was compared to classical disruption methods (bead-beating, freezing-thawing, thermal treatment or ultrasound) for the subsequent extraction of astaxanthin in ethanol. The sensitivity of cells to the different treatments depended on the growing conditions and the pre-treatment proposed, which was based on PEF followed by aqueous incubation, resulted in greater extraction yields in comparison to mechanical treatments.

GP4: Fermentation of Arthrospira platensis (spirulina) biomass as a means to obtain a functional beverage

Grantee: Dr Alberto Niccolai, University of Florence, Italy

Host: University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Duration: 7 January 2019 – 24 February 2019


The principal objective of the study was to evaluate the use of lyophilised biomass of the cyanobacterium Arthrospira platensis (commercially known as spirulina) in soymilk and in water, as substrate for lactic acid fermentation by Lactobacillus plantarum ATCC 8014 and to evaluate the fermented products in terms of probiotic bacteria content, in vitro digestibility, antioxidant capacity, total phenolics, and bioactives, which are considered parameters of great importance for the development of probiotic and functional beverages. The cyanobacterial strain used for the tests was produced and selected by Prof. Mario Tredici team regarding their novel food status and biochemical profile (e.g. phycocyanin, protein content).

The work shows that A. platensis F&M-C256 is a suitable substrate for L. plantarum ATCC 8014 growth. At the end of the fermentation, L. plantarum ATCC 8014 cells constitute a significant part of the broth dry weight and antioxidant activity was strongly increased. Fermentation by lactic acid bacteria is an appropriate technology to obtain innovative functional beverages from A. platensis, which can provide to the consumer, besides the high nutritional properties of spirulina further increased by fermentation, a significant amount of probiotic Lactobacillus cells, thus conferring additional favourable properties to the final product.

During the STSM Prof. Jamnik organized an invited lecture at Biotechnical Faculty, Department of Food Science and Technology in which Dr Niccolai presented the lecture “Microalgae as source of innovative foods and pharmaceutical products”.  This research work will continue with a manuscript preparation that will include all the obtained results and it will be submitted to a journal with acknowledgment to the COST Action ES1408 European network for algal-bioproducts.

GP4: Programmed cell death in Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii

Grantee: Dr Marina Klemenčič, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Slovenia

Host: Umea Univsersity, Sweeden

Duration: 14 September 2018 – 28 September 2018


I appreciate the possibility by the COST action EuAlgae which enabled me to perform a 2-week stay at the University of Umea in Sweden in the laboratory of Christiane Funk. Although the main part of the STSM was dedicated to analysis of genes in the model algal organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, I am proudest that the STSM enabled us to finish on a manuscript entitled “Evolution and structural diversity of metacaspases”, which was successfully published in the Journal of Experimental Botany this year.

GP3: Photostimulation by UVA, Blue and Green radiation and nitrogen effects on the accumulation of Phycocyanin, Mycosporine-like aminoacids and fatty acids in cyanobacteria

Grantee: Fernando Pagels, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), Portugal

Host: Félix L. Figueroa, University of Malaga, Spain

Duration: 01 February 2018 – 30 April 2018


The objective of this work was to evaluate the photostimulation by light quality in the accumulation of bioactive compounds and its relation on nitrogen availability, photosynthetic capacity and energy. It was used a cyanobacterium as target organism. This work was divided in two parts, in the first, two light sources were tested: fluorescent lamp and sodium-vapor lamp in different intensities. For the best condition, a second experiment was designed to test the influence of supplementation of different light qualities (Red, Blue, Green and UV). This STSM allowed me to learn new techniques and methodologies that will contribute for my future works, such as the PAM analysis and protocols for the determination of the biochemical composition of the organism. It also gave me contacts for future collaborations and great colleagues that I was pleased to work with and that I hope to keep in contact.


Grantee: Jelena Vladic, Department of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Engineering, Faculty of Technology, University of Novi Sad, Serbia

Host: Luisa Gouveia, LNEG – National Laboratory of Energy and Geology, Lisbon, Portugal

Duration: 15 February 2018 – 12 April 2018


The aim of this STSM was to evaluate the potential of Scenedesmus obliquus microalga for treating wastewater from brewery and poultry industries. Moreover, the goal was to determine the composition of the obtained biomass in terms of content of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and chlorophylls. Also, subcritical water extraction as a green technology was applied in order to purify and obtain extracts with highly valuable compounds.

A valuable part of this STSM was acquiring knowledge and skills in wastewater treatment and microalgae biomass production, as well as characterization of the obtained biomass. In addition, a very important and positive outcome of this mission was establishing close and prolific collaboration with Dr Gouveia and her team who kindly welcomed me to LNEG and were more than happy to share their knowledge and experiences.

GP3: Acclimation process of high lipid-producing microalgae subjected to nutrient modulation

Grantee: Mariana Carneiro, Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto (FEUP), Portugal

Host: Giuseppe Torzillo, Institute of Ecosystem Study (ISE) – CNR, Italy

Duration: 18 January 2018 – 17 April 2018


We used chlorophyll fluorescence quenching and kinetics to get a closer look upon changes occurring on the photosynthetic apparatus between N-replete (batch) and N-depleted (batch and semi-continuous) culture conditions. For this purpose, a Nannochloropsis oceanica strain was grown and subjected to nitrogen depletion, under high light, in a 1 L-Pyrex Roux-type photobioreactor. We monitored slow and fast chlorophyll fluorescence using a pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) fluorometer on and offline, as well as a (Photosynthetic Efficiency Analyser) PEA fluorometer. Growth rate, chlorophyll, as well as oxygen evolution, respiration, lipid and pigment production were also duly examined.   

GP3: Dinoflagellates for sustained supply of active compounds in optimized photobioreactors (II)

Grantee: Joana Assunção, University of Porto, Portugal

Host: Doctor Francisco García-Camacho, University of Almería, Spain

Duration: 16th October 2017 – 5th September 2017


A set-up of a pilot-scale bubble column was planned to culture dinoflagellates illuminated with LED’s (but effective biomass was not produced, the set-up was carried out with seawater). I was trained to manage the LED control unit to allow selection of the various illumination regimens and sterilizing the photobioreactor by filling the vessel and associated pipework with filtered seawater and sodium hypochlorite. In addition, a different computer-controlled compact unit at pilot scale was used to obtain enriched-extract of amphidinols (from a dinoflagellate culture of Amphidinium cartarae). The preparation of toxin-enriched extracts (amphidinols), encompassed the steps of centrifugation, removal of pellet, filtration and supernatant fractionation in a C18 column by flash chromatography (prepared in a vaccum manifold). A step elution gradient was performed with HPLC water, 0%, 50% and 80% aqueous MeOH and 100% MeOH. Each methanolic fraction was separately collected and then tested for haemolytic activity.

GP3: Soil microalgae

Grantee: Timea Hajnal Jafari, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia

Host: Roberta Congestri, Laboratory of Biology of Algae, Department of Biology, University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy

Duration: 01 March 2018 – 23 March 2018


I have participated in different activities during my short scientific mission. I focused my work on microscopic examination and description of isolated soil microalgae. Light microscopy and Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy were used for that purpose. The selected isolates were put in cultivation in culturing flasks using liquid Bg-11 medium for algal growth. Chlorophyll extraction was performed using 100% methanol. Spectrophotometric readings of absorbance was carried out at the wavelength of 665nm. The protocols for total carbohydrates determination in algal biomass and sequenced extraction of exopolysaccharides were also performed. This STSM allowed me to gain new knowledge, both theoretical and practical in the area of microalgae identification, cultivation, biochemical and phylogenetic characterization. I was able to interact with researchers and exchange ideas which is also important for future research and collaborations.


Grantee: Dr. Sanja Vlaisavljević, Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Enviromental Protection, Faculty of Science, University of Novi Sad, Serbia

Host: Dr. Anabela Raymundo, Instituto Superior de Agronomia at University of Lisboa, Portugal

Duration: 06 October 2017 – 28 October 2017


I have spent my short-term scientific mission at Instituto Superior de Agronomia at University of Lisboa under the supervision of Dr. Anabela Raymundo. The aim of the STSM was evaluation of the impact of microalgae (Chlorella vulgaris) addition on technological and rheological behavior of bread and optimization method for the disruption of microalgae cell wall.

This research program provided me important results and new aspect to my ongoing research and completion of my investigations concerned about development of new food products, using functional ingredients from microalgae food ingredients using various techniques and methods. It was a professional challenge as well as important professional experience.

In contact with colleagues from Dr. Raymundo Lab I’ve acquired new ideas about mutual projects and new collaboration on mutual benefits, which could result in further transfer of experiences, and in building a stable platform for further cooperation in order to goal some future international project. Therefore, we are preparing a paper which is supported by this COST Action as result of our mutual work. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Grant Holder of the COST Action EUAlgae and STSM Coordinators financial support and great collaboration


Grantee: Yaiza Tejido Núñez, Water and Health Division, Ceit-IK4, Spain  

Host: Dr. Dominik Refardt, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Natural Resource Sciences, Switzerland

Duration: 15 January 2018 – 15 March 2018


The purpose of this Short Term Scientific Mission was to determine the suitability of microalgae for the treatment of wastewater from recirculating aquaculture systems. To accomplish this objective, lab scale experiments were carried out treating wastewater from a recirculating aquaculture system located at the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). Chlorella vulgaris and Acutodesmus obliquus were tested, and the results indicate that a microalgae-based technology to treat this wastewater could be developed. This experience has been very rewarding, not only in a professional way, but also in a personal aspect, so I would like to thank all people from ZHAW that made it possible and special!


Grantee: Lorenzo Hernando Ana, Universidad de Valladolid, Spain

Host: Hayes Maria, Teagasc Food Research Center, Ireland

Duration: 04 October 2017 – 22 December 2017


This STSM was planned as an extension to a previous STSM experience, so based on those results, an improved protein extraction procedure from microalgae could be developed. In brief, traditional extraction was associated with enzymatic treatment to enhance cell disruption and hence protein extraction. Four different enzymes were tested using optimal operation conditions and protein extracts were obtained and tested. Proximate analysis and techno-functional properties such as colour, protein solubility, foaming and emulsifying capacity or water and oil holding capacity test were assessed. In addition, I was also able to attend the 46th Annual Food Science and Technology Conference, organized by the IFSTI and held in Dublin, as well as to participate in some activities in the frame of the Science Week, helping children to get a closer to science and research activities. As before, the time I spent in Dublin working in Teagasc was both personally and academically rewarding, and it is an experience I strongly recommend to any PhD student.

GP3: Interactions and performance of a Chlorella vulgaris strain and its symbiotic bacterium Rhizobium sp. during municipal wastewater treatment

Grantee: Lorenza Ferro, Umeå University, Dep. of Chemistry, Sweden

Host: Raul Muñoz, University of Valladolid, Dep. of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, Spain

Duration: 15 September 2017 – 13 December 2017


The purpose of my STSM was the evaluation of the symbiotic relationship between the microalga Chlorella vulgaris and its associated bacterium Rhizobium sp., previously co-isolated from municipal wastewater in Sweden. Three metabolic conditions were tested batchwise, photoautotrophic (control), heterotrophic and mixotrophic, and these two last experiments were performed in synthetic wastewater for the evaluation of the microbial consortium in municipal wastewater treatment. Our results showed that Chlorella-Rhizobium co-cultivation is a promising strategy for simultaneous wastewater treatment and microbial biomass production especially under mixotrophic conditions, as a 3-fold higher biomass concentration, a 13-fold higher fatty acid content and a superior carbon and nutrient removals efficiency (+58% TOC, +41% TN, +44% TP) were achieved compared to the axenic C. culgaris culture. The project will continue at Umeå University, where the axenic cultures and the co-culture will be tested under mixotrophic conditions in a semi-continuous system.


Grantee: Ksenija Savadova, Nature Research Centre, Laboratory of Algology and Microbial Ecology, Vilnius, Lithuania

Host: Prof. Dr Hab. Hanna Mazur-Marzec, University of Gdańsk, Institute of Oceanography, Department of Marine Biotechnology, Gdynia, Poland

Duration: 3 March 2018 – 24 March 2018


The purpose of STSM was to screen secondary metabolites in cyanobacteria strains from Lithuanian freshwaters and to assess factors affecting their production in order to select the strains with potential for biotechnological application. During STSM, cyanobacteria strains from genera Planktothrix, Sphaerospermopsis, Aphanizomenon and Chrysosporum were analysed. Oligopeptides structure and quantity were assessed using LC-MS/MS system. I also acquired knowledge and new skills testing bioactivity of cyanobacteria strains extracts by using enzyme (trypsin inhibition) bioassay and cancer cell cultures for evaluation of cytotoxic activity (MTT assay).

GP2: Wastewater treatment and biogas production: a comparison of green algae and diatoms

Grantee: Jelena Godrijan, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb, Croatia

Host: Cristina González, Instituto IMDEA Energía, Madrid, Spain

Duration: 18 January 2017 – 19 April 2017


The purpose of my short term scientific mission in Instituto IMDEA Energía was to compare the green algae wastewater growth and biogas production with diatoms. Chlorella vulgaris and Scenedesmus obliqus were chosen as representatives of green algae, and Nitzschia palea for diatoms. Algae were grown in 20, 50, 70 and 100 % of wastewater content. Nitzschia palea was successfully grown in wastewater, and highest yields of biomass were observed for 100 % wastewater content. For the assessment of biogas production biomethane potential tests (pictured) were performed, and the freshwater diatom Nitzschia palea was able to produce a very high methane yield. During my stay at Instituto IMDEA Energía I learned many methods applicable to my future work and the whole research team of the laboratory and institute were very helpful and very friendly.

GP2: Microalgae in savoury food bioproducts: evaluation of in vitro digestibility and antioxidant activity

Grantee: Ana Paula dos Santos Batista (ECI) – University of Lisbon (Portugal)

Host: Professor Mario Tredici, University of Florence – DISPAA. ITALY.

EUALGAE WG Members involved: Dr. Alberto Niccolai

Duration: 6 March 2017 – 14 April 2017


Salted cookies (“crackers”) with incorporation of microalgae biomass were developed at the University of Lisbon (ULisboa, Portugal) using microalgae strains from the Algae Bank of Fotosintetica & Microbiologica s.r.l. (Italy), namely Arthrospira platensis F&M-C256, Tetraselmis suecica F&M-M33 and Phaeodactylum tricornutum F&M-M40. During Ana Paula Batista six week STSM in the University of Florence the crackers were analysed in terms of in vitro digestibility (IVD) through an enzymatic methodology optimized by Alberto Niccolai from Professor Mario Tredici group. Microalgae crackers showed high IVD, with values ranging from 82-86%, within the range of commercial crackers (78-93%). The in vitro antioxidant activity of the microalgae crackers samples was also analysed through DPPH radical scavenging activity (RSA) and total phenolic assays, showing significantly higher values than the control (up to +270% RSA for A. platensis and P. tricornutum 6% crackers)

GP2: Optimising micro-algal protein extraction and characterisation of bioactivities and techno-functional attributes

Grantee: Ana Lorenzo, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain

Host: Maria Hayes, Teagasc – Food Research Center, Dublin, Ireland

Duration9 January 2017 – 7 April 2017


In my STSM, microalgae were used for potential protein ingredient production. Four different microalgae species, selected based on their industrial relevance (Scenedesmus almeriensis, Nannochloropsis gaditana, Spirulina platensis, Isochrysis T-iso), were used as source materials for protein and value-added ingredient generation. Infrastructure and equipment available at Teagasc were applied to these microalgae strains to optimize protein yield recovery from this biomass. In addition, the functional and health attributes of the protein extracts and concentrates developed in this work were assessed for their potential functional food applications using in vitro bioassays. I really appreciated the possibility of working there for three months and totally recommend the experience. My time there was really satisfying and rewarding, in both personal and academic aspects.

GP2: Life cycle assessment of algal-bacterial photobioreactors for biogas upgrading

GranteeAna Ferreira, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

Host: Raul Muñoz, Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, University of Valladolid, Mergelina s/n, Valladolid, Spain.

Duration16 April 2017 – 30 April 2017


The purpose of my short-term scientific mission (STSM) at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology in University of Valladolid was to evaluate the resource´s viability, taking into account a sustainability study concerning energy and environmental indicators of the algal-bacterial photobioreactors for biogas upgrading. The study included the creation of an inventory (inputs and outputs) of all processes involved in wastewater treatment by microalgae and biomethane production; direct measurements of the equipment, the analysis of energy and CO2 emissions for microalgae and respective conversion technology (life cycle methodology), the and analysis of environmental impacts.

This STSM allowed me to learn about the new technologies for biogas upgrading using microalgae, to work in the research group that is a reference in the development of cost-effective technologies for the treatment of industrial and domestic wastewaters, both aerobically and anaerobically and also design and operate pilot and field scale bioreactors for several environmental purposes. This experience enriched my experience and expertise in my research area. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to contribute and collaborate with this group.

GP2: Suitability of Microalgae to Biodiesel Production

GranteeMs Vânia Pôjo, Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

Host: Faculty of Biology-CIBUS, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Duration6 March 2017 – 20 April 2017


With the work developed within COST Action ES1408, it was possible to learn techniques of marine microalgae cultivation, maintenance of the strains and biochemical analyzes. On the picture, you can see seven different strains of Tetraselmis sp., with which the STSM grantee worked at the University of Santiago de Compostela.

GP2: Dinoflagellates for sustained supply of active compounds in optimized photobioreactors

Grantee: Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

Host: University of Almería, Almeria, Spain

Duration: 5 February 2017 – 19 February 2017


The STSM carried out in the University of Almeria encompassed the manipulation and culturing of dinoflagellates Karlodinium veneficum in T-flasks. It was trained the preparation of media and inoculums, including the maintenance of the different conditions of the dinoflagellates culturing. A study was performed on growth kinetics and biomass production during 10 days, where the cell concentration was daily accessed. It was also carried out the spectrophotometric analysis of the nutrient concentration (such as phosphates and nitrates) in the Karlodinium cultures. The detention of biotoxins, produced by dinoflagellates (by Amphidinium carterae from a previous culture processing) was also accessed in terms of hemolytic activity. 

GP2: Optimization of Tetraselmis species growth, productivity and harvest

Grantee: Dr Mariana Carneiro, Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

Host: Faculty of Biology-CIBUS, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de
Compostela, Spain

Duration: 23 January 2017 – 4 March 2017


Tetraselmis spp. was grown in a laboratory photobioreactor in cyclostat to study some of the factors that influence the quantitative production of microalgal components, with focus on lipids. A characterization of Tetraselmis spp. strains to evaluate the cell’s growth, chlorophyll and lipid content. After this first characterization of Tetraselmis spp. and when microalgae were near the end of the log phase, we employed two different renewal rates of the culture with fresh medium daily. The results obtained revealed a fast growth of Tetraselmis spp.. Chlorophyll a content revealed strain-specific changes with the both renewal rates. Lipid evaluation also revealed a strain-specific quantitative increase of lipid content/cell when renewal rates were applied.

GP1: Supercritical CO2 extraction of hydrocarbons from B. braunii with an emphasis on cell viability

Grantee: Ece Yildiz Ozturk, Bioengineering Department, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey

Host: Dr. Dorinde Kleinegris, Departament of Bioprocess Engineering, WU Agrotechnology and Food Sciences, Droevendaalsesteeg 4, 6708 PB Wageningen

Duration: 1 March 2016 – 30 March 2016

Experience: I was very delighted to find the opportunity to spend one month working on the high pressure hastelloy vessel system at Food & Biobased Research in Wageningen UR. This gave me a chance to deepen my knowledge related to down-stream processes in the inspiring, creative environment of one of the largest Netherland universities. COST Action ES1408 programme was a great opportunity to enrich my future studies and contribute to my academic development. Within the scope of the STSM, supercritical CO2 extractions of hydrocarbons from lyophilized and fresh biomass of Botryococcus braunii by using a Hastelloy vessel were carried out. The hastelloy vessel is capable of supercritical CO2 extraction of both fresh algal broth and lyophilized biomass. This specification is additional to the equipment that has been used for the SC-CO2 extraction of hydrocarbons out of algae in Turkey. Besides, quantitative detection of hydrocarbons in algae extracts was executed by gas chromatograph. Supercritical CO2 extraction conditions that enable maximum hydrocarbon recovery were determined. In addition, the effect of high pressure on cell viability was investigated by methylene blue analysis and via microscopic images. Also, reusability of algal culture after extraction was investigated in modified CHU 13 liquid media under climate room conditions.


Grantee: Ana-Maria GALAN, Department of Bioresources, The National Institute for Research and Development in Chemistry and Petrochemistry – ICECHIM, Bucharest.

Host: Raul MUNOZ, Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, University of Valladolid, Mergelina s/n, Valladolid, Spain.

Duration: 29 February 2016 – 13 March 2016

Experience: The purpose of my STSM at University of Valladolid was the application of a microalgal-bacterial process for  biogas upgrading. For this purpose, I studied here the operation mode of two systems: 1. A system with an open  photobioreactor – a pilot high rate algal pond (HRAP) – with a volume of 180L, connected with an external absorption column with a volume of 2.2 L. This system was used for the removal of CO2 and H2S from biogas, and for the treatment of a diluted wastewater centrate.  2. The second system studied here is a system with a closed photobioreactor with a volume of 110L connected to an external absorption column with a capacity of 2 L. This system was used for the removal of the CO2 and H2S from raw biogas.  For  both systems a synthetic mixture of  29.5 % CO2, 0.5 % H2S and 70% CH4 was used as raw  biogas. To evaluate the performance of both systems, the following parameters were monitored: the composition of the raw biogas and upgraded biogas, the TOC, IC, TN, NH4+, NO2−, NO3 −, P, and TSS in the influent and in the culture broth. The temperature, pH, and DO in the cultivation broth and the flow rate of the influent, of the raw biogas and upgraded biogas were also measured.

This STSM allowed me to learn how to operate and how to monitor a system for biogas upgrading. Here, I learned techniques that could be applied in our laboratories in Bucharest.


GP1: Application of milking process in the Botryococcus braunii production

Grantee: Judit Martín, Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, University of Valladolid, Mergelina s/n, Valladolid, Spain

Host: María Barbosa, Departament of Bioprocess Engineering, WU Agrotechnology and Food Sciences, Droevendaalsesteeg 4, 6708 PB Wageningen

Duration: 12 January 2016 – 10 April 2016

Experience: The purpose of my short-term scientific mission (STSM) in Wageningen University was the application of milking process in theBotryococcus braunii production. It was a great challenge where the extraction of EPS (exo-polysaccharides) from algae was carried out at the same time of the production of microalgae biomass through a microfiltration, as a first step. It was necessary to check the cell viability during this process and, of course, to optimise the operational conditions such as the number of milking cycles. We had to take into account during this optimization: the high product recovery and the microalgae production. That allowed me to learn new techniques, focussed on the extraction, that could be possible apply in other type of microalgae and process. 

GP1: Use of metabolic modeling for terpenoid production enhancement

Grantee: Konstantinos Vavitsas, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorlvadsensvej 40, Frederiksberg C, Denmark

Host: Steinn Gudmundsson, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science; the Center for Systems Biology, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

Duration: 30th September 2015 – 9th October 2015 (11 days)

Experience: The purpose of my short-term scientific mission (STSM) to Steinn Guðmundsson’s laboratory (University of Iceland) was to train in the use of the constraint-based reconstruction and analysis (COBRA) approach to predict network properties using existing genome-scale metabolic models as well as to extend such models, e.g. to include heterologous pathways. In simpler words, I learned how to use linear programming to computationally study the metabolism of Synechocystis—a cyanobacterium used in biotechnological applications—as a whole. That allowed me to predict metabolic perturbations when inserting a heterologous pathway and find the metabolic bottlenecks that need to be addressed experimentally in order to increase terpenoid production from cyanobacteria in general.