Lutein is a xanthophyll carotenoid with remarkable applications in the healthcare sector due to its ocular-protective, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. Currently, marigold flower petals are the only commercial source for lutein extraction, since chemical synthesis suffers from very low yields. Microalgae cultivation is a promising way for lutein production, as the lutein content of microbial biomass is higher compared to that of marigold petals. In addition, microalgae are shown to have a higher growth rate, higher photosynthetic efficiency, and carbon mitigation potential when compared to terrestrial plants, such as marigolds. For the realization of microalgae as a sustainable and alternative lutein source, crucial factors such as the microalgal strains, critical cultivation parameters (light intensity, nutritional status, metabolic mode), pretreatment, extraction, and purification of lutein from microalgal biomass need to be studied in great detail. In this context, this review summarized the recent research progress in lutein production from microalgae, including competent microalgal strains, cultivation systems, and subsequent biomass treatment technologies. The choice of a high yielding strain, along with effective photobioreactor design will enable maximal lutein production from microalgae in an economically viable manner. This review presents comprehensive information on microalgal cultivation and pretreatment which will enable researchers to design an optimal microalgae-based lutein production system.
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