Treatment with Algae Extracts Promotes Flocculation, and Enhances Growth and Neutral Lipid Content in Nannochloropsis oculata—a Candidate for Biofuel Production
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- Taylor, R.L., Rand, J.D. & Caldwell, G.S. Mar Biotechnol (2012) 14: 774. doi:10.1007/s10126-012-9441-8
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Marine microalgae represent a potentially valuable feedstock for biofuel production; however, large-scale production is not yet economically viable. Optimisation of productivity and lipid yields is required and the cost of biomass harvesting and dewatering must be significantly reduced. Microalgae produce a wide variety of biologically active metabolites, many of which are involved in inter- and intra-specific interactions (the so-called infochemicals). The majority of infochemicals remain unidentified or uncharacterised. Here, we apply known and candidate (undefined extracts) infochemicals as a potential means to manipulate the growth and lipid content of Nannochloropsis oculata—a prospective species for biofuel production. Five known infochemicals (β-cyclocitral, trans,trans-2,4-decadienal, hydrogen peroxide, norharman and tryptamine) and crude extracts prepared from Skeletonema marinoi and Dunaliella salina cultures at different growth stages were assayed for impacts on N. oculata over 24 h. The neutral lipid content of N. oculata increased significantly with exposure to three infochemicals (β-cyclocitral, decadienal and norharman); however the effective concentrations affected a significant decrease in growth. Exposure to particular crude extracts significantly increased both growth and neutral lipid levels. In addition, water-soluble extracts of senescent S. marinoi cultures induced a degree of flocculation in the N. oculata. These preliminary results indicate that artificial manipulation of N. oculata cultures by application of algae infochemicals could provide a valuable tool towards achieving economically viable large-scale algae biofuel production.