Towards Versatility of Aquatic Production Platforms: Unlocking the Value of Nordic Bioresources (NordAqua)

The NordAqua NCoE brings internationally recognized Nordic senior scientists and younger PIs together with experts in industrial biorefinery fields in order to generate a multidisciplinary platform for rapid transition to sustainable blue bioeconomy.

NordAqua makes use of aquatic photosynthetic organisms in production of biobased chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biofuels, food and feed, as well as in the process of wastewater purification.

Smart production systems for versatile and sustainable blue bioeconomy include (i) the production of cyanobacteria and algal biomass from specific species for biorefinery purposes, expected to result in relatively short-term industrial applications, (ii) the construction and use of synthetic cell factories for direct production of fine chemicals and biofuels, the cells functioning only as a catalyst (longer-term applications), and ultimately (iii) the combination of these two production platforms.

The NCoE will merge the resources of unique collections of aquatic photosynthetic microorganisms maintained in Finland, Sweden and Norway. High-throughput screening of the new collection will allow the identification and subsequent mass production of novel fine chemicals. The aquatic photosynthetic organisms, under the Nordic umbrella, will serve as a template for rational design of cell factories and for efficient biorefinering. Networking will facilitate the up-scaling processes and realization of the sustainability criteria for production systems towards carbon neutral bio-products.

The NCoE will put particular emphasis on education as well as increasing both societal and political awareness of the feasibility of blue bioeconomy. The NCoE will accelerate the transition to bioeconomy based on the sustainable use of land and water resources, enhanced photosynthetic carbon sequestration, and protection of precious water resources.


NordAqua consists of 10 Nordic universities and research institutes.

  • University of Turku (UTU), Finland
  • University of Helsinki (UH), Finland
  • Umea University (UMU), Sweden
  • Uppsala University (UU), Sweden
  • University of Bergen (UB), Norway
  • SINTEF, Norway
  • The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), Norway
  • The Norwegian Institute of Water Research (NIVA), Norway
  • The Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd (VTT), Finland
  • The Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), Finland

Besides the academic participants, NordAqua is a consortium with several industrial partners (such as a4f algae for future (Portugal), Smart Chemistry Park (Finland)) and several societal stakeholders. 

Scientific Publications

Data source: Crossref. The list should not be assumed to represent the complete published research output of the project.

Enhancement of photosynthetic isobutanol production in engineered cells of Synechocystis PCC 6803

Journal Article published 2018-09-27 in Biotechnology for Biofuels volume 11 issue 1
Research funded by NordForsk | Horizon 2020 (Photofuel)
Authors: Rui Miao, Hao Xie, Peter Lindblad.

Design and characterization of a synthetic minimal promoter for heterocyst-specific expression in filamentous cyanobacteria

Journal Article published 2018-09-11 in PLOS ONE volume 13 issue 9
Research funded by NordForsk | Energimyndigheten
Authors: Adam Wegelius, Xin Li, Federico Turco, Karin Stensjö.

Unequal misses during the flash-induced advancement of photosystem II: effects of the S state and acceptor side cycles

Journal Article published 2018-09-06 in Photosynthesis Research
Research funded by Energimyndigheten | Vetenskapsrådet | Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas | NordForsk | Narodowe Centrum Nauki
Authors: Long Vo Pham, Julian David Janna Olmos, Petko Chernev, Joanna Kargul, Johannes Messinger.

Differential biochemical properties of three canonical Dps proteins from the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme suggest distinct cellular functions

Journal Article published 2018-08-31 in Journal of Biological Chemistry volume 293 issue 43
Research funded by NordForsk | Energimyndigheten
Authors: Christoph Howe, Felix Ho, Anja Nenninger, Patrícia Raleiras, Karin Stensjö.

Homologous overexpression of NpDps2 and NpDps5 increases the tolerance for oxidative stress in the multicellular cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme

Journal Article published 2018-08-13 in FEMS Microbiology Letters volume 365 issue 18
Research funded by NordForsk
Authors: Xin Li, Henna Mustila, Ann Magnuson, Karin Stensjö.

Translation efficiency of heterologous proteins is significantly affected by the genetic context of RBS sequences in engineered cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803

Journal Article published 2018-03-02 in Microbial Cell Factories volume 17 issue 1
Research funded by Tekes | Academy of Finland | Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia | Koneen Säätiö | NordForsk
Authors: Kati Thiel, Edita Mulaku, Hariharan Dandapani, Csaba Nagy, Eva-Mari Aro, Pauli Kallio.

Engineering photoautotrophic carbon fixation for enhanced growth and productivity

Journal Article published 2018-01-01 in Sustainable Energy & Fuels volume 2 issue 12
Research funded by NordForsk
Authors: Feiyan Liang, Pia Lindberg, Peter Lindblad.

A new approach for sustained and efficient H2 photoproduction by Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Journal Article published 2018-01-01 in Energy & Environmental Science volume 11 issue 6
Research funded by Koneen Säätiö | NordForsk | Academy of Finland
Authors: Sergey Kosourov, Martina Jokel, Eva-Mari Aro, Yagut Allahverdiyeva.

Versatile templates from cellulose nanofibrils for photosynthetic microbial biofuel production

Journal Article published 2018-01-01 in Journal of Materials Chemistry A volume 6 issue 14
Research funded by Biotieteiden ja Ympäristön Tutkimuksen Toimikunta | NordForsk | Novo Nordisk
Authors: M. Jämsä, S. Kosourov, V. Rissanen, M. Hakalahti, J. Pere, J. A. Ketoja, T. Tammelin, Y. Allahverdiyeva.

Generation of a functional, semisynthetic [FeFe]-hydrogenase in a photosynthetic microorganism

Journal Article published 2018-01-01 in Energy & Environmental Science volume 11 issue 11
Research funded by Energimyndigheten | H2020 European Research Council | NordForsk | Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse
Authors: Adam Wegelius, Namita Khanna, Charlène Esmieu, Giovanni Davide Barone, Filipe Pinto, Paula Tamagnini, Gustav Berggren, Peter Lindblad.

Nutrient removal and biodiesel feedstock potential of green alga UHCC00027 grown in municipal wastewater under Nordic conditions

Journal Article published 2017-09-01 in Algal Research volume 26
Research funded by Koneen Säätiö | Academy of Finland | NordForsk | Russian Science Foundation
Authors: Mikael Jämsä, Fiona Lynch, Anita Santana-Sánchez, Petteri Laaksonen, Gennadi Zaitsev, Alexei Solovchenko, Yagut Allahverdiyeva.
Facts about the project

Project number: 82845

Project leader

Eva-Mari Aro, University of Turku

Project website
5 years