Joint Research Shows that DENSO’s Microalga, Coccomyxa sp. KJ Has Virucidal Effect against COVID-19

Mar. 23, 2022

Chubu University
Tokai University
Tohoku University School of Medicine
DENSO Corporation

Chubu University, Tokai University, Tohoku University School of Medicine and DENSO Corporation have found that monogalactosyl diacylglyceride (MGDG), a component contained in the chloroplasts of a microalga called Coccomyxa sp. KJ*1, has a virucidal effect*2 against COVID-19.

Coccomyxa sp. KJ is a fast-growing, vigorous, and easy-to-cultivate microalga. The plant contains not only abundant nutrients, including vitamins and amino acids, but also unique characteristics, such as suppressing an increase in the bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Moreover, in 2019, it was found that MGDG contained in Coccomyxa sp. KJ breaks the envelope membranes*3 of herpesviruses and has a virucidal effect against the viruses.

Recently, the three universities and DENSO discovered that MGDG contained in Coccomyxa sp. KJ also has a virucidal effect against COVID-19. The group will also research whether this microalga MGDG has a virucidal effect against influenza viruses, human coronaviruses, and other viruses with envelope membranes other than herpesviruses and COVID-19.

The results of the research may lead to the development of products that effectively counter COVID-19 and other viruses. The three universities and DENSO will continue to conduct this research to expand the scope of measures for preventing infectious diseases to contribute to society.

As an academia-industry collaboration project with the grant number JPMJTR204H, the research was conducted with support from the Adaptable and Seamless Technology Transfer Program through Target-driven R&D (A-STEP) funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).


*1Coccomyxa sp. KJ is a registered trademark of DENSO Corporation. This microalga was developed by DENSO jointly with Kyoto University. “Stories,” one of DENSO-owned media, also features the plant: 
*2 Virucidal effect means destroying the ability of viruses to infect cells.
*3 Envelope membranes are found in virus particles.

  • DENSO’s Coccomyxa sp. KJ cultivation facility (Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture)

  • Coccomyxa sp. KJ

Article about virucidal effect against COVID-19


 Title:  Virucidal effect of monogalactosyl diacylglyceride from a green microalga, Coccomyxa sp. KJ, against clinical isolates of SARS-CoV-2 as assessed by a plaque assay
 Author:  Kyoko Hayashi, Satomi Asai, Kazuo Umezawa, Hidehumi Kakizoe, Hayato Miyachi, Masanobu Morita, Takaaki Akaike, Hitoshi Kuno, Satoko Komatsu, Takumi Watanabe, Toshio Kawahara
 Journal:  Journal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis, WILEY
 DOI:  10.1002/jcla.24146

Article about virucidal effect against herpesviruses

Title:  In vitro and in vivo anti-herpes simplex virus activity of monogalactosyl diacylglyceride from Coccomyxa sp. KJ (IPOD FERM BP-22254), a green microalga
 Author:  Kyoko Hayashi, Jung-Bum Lee, Kinya Atsumi, Mana Kanazashi, Tamaki Shibayama, Kazumasa Okamoto, Toshio Kawahara, Toshimitsu Hayashi
 Journal:  PLOS ONE
 DOI:  10.1371/journal.pone.0219305