, Volume 79, Issue 5, pp 719-729
Date: 20 May 2008

Biomass and lutein productivity of Scenedesmus almeriensis: influence of irradiance, dilution rate and temperature

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In this paper, the biomass and lutein productivity of the lutein-rich new strain Scenedesmus almeriensis is modelled versus irradiance and temperature. The results demonstrate that S. almeriensis is a mesophile microorganism with an optimal growth temperature of 35°C, and capable of withstanding up to 48°C, which caused culture death. This strain is also tolerant to high irradiances, showing no signs of photoinhibition even at the maximum irradiance essayed of 1625 μE m−2 s−1 accumulating up to 0.55% dry weight (d.wt.) of lutein. The optimal conditions that maximise the biomass productivity also favour the lutein productivity, lutein being a primary metabolite. Maximal biomass and lutein productivities of 0.87 g l−1 day−1 and 4.77 mg l−1 day−1, respectively, were measured. The analysis of light availability inside the cultures, quantified as average irradiance, demonstrates that the cultures were mainly photo-limited, although photosaturation also took place at high external irradiances. The effect of temperature was also investigated finding that the specific maximal growth rate is modified by the temperature according to the Arrhenius equation. The influence of both light availability and temperature was included in an overall growth model, which showed, as a result, capable of fitting the whole set of experimental data. An overall lutein accumulation rate model was also proposed and used in a regression analysis. Simulations performed using the proposed models show that under outdoor conditions a biomass productivity of 0.95 g l−1 day−1 can be expected, with a lutein productivity up to 5.31 mg l−1 day−1. These models may be useful to assist the design and operation optimisation of outdoor cultures of this strain.