Microalgae in the wild often form consortia with other species promoting their own health and resource foraging opportunities. The recent application of microalgae cultivation and deployment in commercial photobioreactors (PBR) so far has focussed on single species of algae, resulting in multi-species consortia being largely unexplored. Reviewing the current status of PBR ecological habitat, this article argues in favor of further investigation into algal communication with conspecifics and interspecifics, including other strains of microalgae and bacteria. These mutualistic species form the ‘phycosphere’: the micro-environment surrounding microalgal cells, potentiating the production of certain metabolites through biochemical interaction with cohabitating microorganisms. A better understanding of the phycosphere could lead to novel PBR configurations, capable of incorporating algal-microbial consortia, potentially proving more effective than single-species algal systems.