Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 629–636 | Cite as

Effects of nitrogen sources on cell growth and lipid accumulation of green alga Neochloris oleoabundans

  • Yanqun Li
  • Mark Horsman
  • Bei Wang
  • Nan Wu
  • Christopher Q. LanEmail author
Biotechnological Products and Process Engineering


Microalgal lipids are the oils of future for sustainable biodiesel production. However, relatively high production costs due to low lipid productivity have been one of the major obstacles impeding their commercial production. We studied the effects of nitrogen sources and their concentrations on cell growth and lipid accumulation of Neochloris oleoabundans, one of the most promising oil-rich microalgal species. While the highest lipid cell content of 0.40 g/g was obtained at the lowest sodium nitrate concentration (3 mM), a remarkable lipid productivity of 0.133 g l−1 day−1 was achieved at 5 mM with a lipid cell content of 0.34 g/g and a biomass productivity of 0.40 g l−1 day−1. The highest biomass productivity was obtained at 10 mM sodium nitrate, with a biomass concentration of 3.2 g/l and a biomass productivity of 0.63 g l−1 day−1. It was observed that cell growth continued after the exhaustion of external nitrogen pool, hypothetically supported by the consumption of intracellular nitrogen pools such as chlorophyll molecules. The relationship among nitrate depletion, cell growth, lipid cell content, and cell chlorophyll content are discussed.


Lipid Microalgal oils Microalgae Biofuel Biodiesel Nitrogen-starvation 



Financial supports from Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI) are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanqun Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark Horsman
    • 1
  • Bei Wang
    • 1
  • Nan Wu
    • 1
  • Christopher Q. Lan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.College of Life ScienceSouth China Normal UniversityGuangzhouChina

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