Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 201–209 | Cite as

Light, temperature and nitrogen starvation effects on the total lipid and fatty acid content and composition ofSpirulina platensis UTEX 1928

  • Mark A. Tedesco
  • Eirik O. Duerr


The total lipid and fatty acid content ofSpirulina platensis UTEX 1928 was 7.2 and 2.2% respectively of cellular dry weight under controlled conditions supporting high growth rates. With increases in irradiance from 170 to 870 μmol photon m−2 s−1, growth rate increased, total lipid decreased, and fatty acid composition was unaffected. At 1411 μmol photon m−2 s−1, total lipid increased slightly and percent composition of the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid increased.

Growth and total lipid content ofS. platensis were affected by changes in growth temperature from 25 to 38 °C. With increased growth rate, total lipid content increased. This suggests that the storage of carbon increases at temperatures supporting high growth rates. The degree of saturation increased with temperature. Although the percent composition of gamma linolenic acid was higher at lower growth temperature, production was still primarily a function of growth rate. The effect of temperature on fatty acid content and degree of saturation was of secondary importance.

Nitrogen starvation increased total lipid content but decreased fatty acid content as a percentage of dry weight; composition of the fatty acids was unaffected. N-starvation appeared to suspend synthesis of long chain fatty acids inS. platensis, suggesting that some other compound stores fixed carbon when nitrogen is limiting.

It was concluded that fatty acid production inS. platensis is maximized by optimizing culture conditions for growth.

Key words

cyanobacteria blue-green algae biosynthesis growth gamma linolenic acid 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. Tedesco
    • 1
  • Eirik O. Duerr
    • 2
  1. 1.Marine Sciences Research Center, SUNY Stony BrookStony BrookU.S.A.
  2. 2.The Oceanic InstituteHonoluluU.S.A.

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