Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 349–353 | Cite as

Growth characteristics of ultrahigh-density microalgal cultures

  • Amos Richmond


The physiological characteristics of cultures of very high cell mass (e.g. 10 g cell mass/L), termed “ultrahigh cell density cultures” is reviewed. A close relationship was found between the length of the optical path (OP) in flat-plate reactors and the optimal cell density of the culture as well as its areal (g m−2 day−1) productivity. Cell-growth inhibition (GI) unfolds, as culture density surpasses a certain threshold. If it is constantly relieved, a 1.0 cm OP reactor could produceca. 50% more than reactors with longer OP,e.g. 5 or 10 cm. This unique effect, discovered by Hu et al. [3], is explained in terms of the relationships between the frequency of the light-dark cycle (L-D cycle), cells undergo in their travel between the light and dark volumes in the reactor, and the turnover time of the photosynthetic center (PC). In long OP reactors (5 cm and above) the L-D cycle time may be orders of magnitude longer than the PC turnover time, resulting in a light regime in which the cells are exposed along the L-D cycle, to long, wasteful dark periods. In contrast, in reactors with an OP ofca. 1.0 cm, the L-D cycle frequency approaches the PC turnover time resulting in a significant reduction of the wasteful dark exposure time, thereby inducing a surge in photosynthetic efficiency. Presently, the major difficulty in mass cultivation of ultrahigh-density culture (UHDC) concerns cell grwoth inhibition in the culture, the exact nature of which is awaiting detailed investigation.


ultrahigh density culture flat plate reactor optical-path growth inhibition L-D cycle productivity 


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Copyright information

© The Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevIsrael

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