, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 1383-1393
Date: 18 Nov 2012

Carotenoid and lipid production by the autotrophic microalga Chlorella protothecoides under nutritional, salinity, and luminosity stress conditions

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Today microalgae represent a viable alternative source for high-value products. The specie Chlorella protothecoides (Cp), heterotrophically grown, has been widely studied and provides a high amount of lutein and fatty acids (FA) and has a good profile for biodiesel production. This work studies carotenoid and FA production by autotrophic grown Cp. Cp was grown until the medium’s nitrogen was depleted, then diluted in NaCl solution, resulting in nutritional, luminosity, and salinity stresses. Different NaCl concentrations were tested (10, 20, 30 g/L) at two different dilutions. After dilution, a color shifting from green to orange-red was noticed, showing carotenoid production. The best production of both carotenoids and FA was attained with a 20 g/L NaCl solution. The total carotenoid content was 0.8 % w/w (canthaxanthin (23.3 %), echinenone (14.7 %), free astaxanthin (7.1 %), and lutein/zeaxanthin (4.1 %)). Furthermore, the total lipid content reached 43.4 % w/w, with a FA composition of C18:1 (33.64 %), C16:0 (23.30 %), C18:2 (11.53 %), and less than 12 % of C18:3, which is needed to fulfill the biodiesel quality specifications (EN 14214).