Indians grow high protein Spirulina
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Indians grow high protein Spirulina

India scientists have developed an improved strain of the tiny plant known for many health benefits.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 18, 2003 13:53 IST

Scientists at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) have developed a new strain of Spirulina, a minute plant which is known to have several health benefits, and claim it has high protein and beta carotene in comparison to normal strains.

"The new strain was developed by inducing mutation in the usual Spirulina strain. It has 80 per cent protein," Dr PK Singh, project director at the National Centre for Conservation and Utilisation of Blue Green Algae, told PTI.

"While the new strain has been studied under laboratory conditions, field trials to study its suitability for large scale production would start in few months' time," Singh said adding for this purpose algal production tanks had been constructed.

The strain, produced two years back, is also rich in a blue pigment called 'phycocyanin' that strengthens immune system and can also be used in cosmetic industry in place of synthetic dyes, he said.

While the high protein content has been established, work is on to authenticate the high beta carotene levels and some enzymes in the new strain, he said.

Sing said high beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the mutant Spirulina makes it useful as an antioxidant. Some plants are known for high beta carotene levels, which is extracted from them for various uses. The new strain might also be used for extracting beta carotene in future.

Indian laws do not allow patenting of organisms but the team has sent a paper in a science journal for publication.

First Published: May 26, 2003 13:34 IST