Date: 24 Feb 2006

Effect of n-dodecane on Crypthecodinium cohnii fermentations and DHA production

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The potential use of n-dodecane as an oxygen vector for enhancement of Crypthecodinium cohnii growth and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) production was studied. The volumetric fraction of oxygen vector influenced the gas–liquid volumetric mass transfer coefficient k L a positively. The k L a increased almost linearly with the increase of volumetric fraction of n-dodecane up to 1%. The stirring rate showed a higher influence on the k L a than the aeration rate. The effects of this hydrocarbon on C. cohnii growth and DHA production were then investigated. A control batch fermentation without n-dodecane addition (CF) and a batch fermentation where n-dodecane 1% (v/v) was added (DF) were carried out simultaneously under the same experimental conditions. It was found that, before 86.7 h of fermentation, the biomass concentration, the specific growth rate, the DHA, and total fatty acids (TFA) production were higher in the CF. After this fermentation time, the biomass concentration, the DHA and TFA production were higher in the DF. The highest DHA content of biomass (6.14%), DHA percentage of TFA (51%), and DHA production volumetric rate r DHA (9.75 mg l−1 h−1) were obtained at the end of the fermentation with n-dodecane (135.2 h). The dissolved oxygen tension (DOT) was always higher in the DF, indicating a better oxygen transfer due to the oxygen vector presence. However, since the other C. cohnii unsaturated fatty acids percentages did not increase with the oxygen availability increase due to the n-dodecane presence, a desaturase oxygen-dependent mechanism involved in the C. cohnii DHA biosynthesis was not considered to explain the DHA production increase. A selective extraction through the n-dodecane was suggested.