Date: 18 Apr 2009

Neochloris oleabundans UTEX #1185: a suitable renewable lipid source for biofuel production

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Energy crises, global warming, and climatic changes call for technological and commercial advances in manufacturing high-quality transportation fuels from unconventional feedstocks. Microalgae is one of the most promising sources of biofuels due to the high yields attained per unit area and because it does not displace food crops. Neochloris oleabundans (Neo) microalga is an important promising microbial source of single-cell oil (SCO). Different experimental growth and lipid production conditions were evaluated and compared by using optical density (540 nm), dry-weight determination, and flow cytometry (FC). Best Neo average biomass productivity was obtained at 30°C under conditions of nitrogen-sufficiency and CO2 supplementation (N+/30°C/CO2), with an average doubling time of 1.4 days. The second and third highest productivities occurred with N-sufficient cultures without CO2 supplementation at 26°C (N+/26°C) and at 30°C (N+/30°C), with doubling times of 1.7 and 2.2 days, respectively. Microbial lipid production was monitored by flow cytometry using Nile red (NR), a lipophilic fluorochrome that possesses several advantageous characteristics for in situ screening near real time (at line). Results showed maximum lipid content (56%) after 6 days of nitrogen depletion under nitrogen starvation without CO2 supplementation (N−/30°C), followed by N−/30°C/CO2 and N−/26°C conditions with 52% lipid content, after 5 and 6 days of N starvation, respectively. The adequate fatty acid profile and iodine value of Neo lipids reinforced this microalga as a good source of SCO, in particular for use as biodiesel.