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

  • Teresa Lopes da Silva
  • Ana Mendes
  • Rui L. Mendes
  • Vítor Calado
  • Sebastião S. Alves
  • Jorge M. T. Vasconcelos
  • Alberto ReisEmail author
Original Paper


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.


Crypthecodiniumcohnii n-Dodecane kLa DHA production and CSTR 



Control batch fermentation without n-dodecane


Continuous stirred tank reactor


Batch fermentation with n-dodecane 1% (v/v)


Docosahexaenoic acid (22:6ω3)


Dissolved oxygen tension


Dynamic pressure method


Gas–liquid volumetric mass transfer coefficient (h−1)


Polyunsaturated fatty acids




Total fatty acids


DHA production volumetric rate (g l−1 h−1)


Rotations per minute


TFA production volumetric rate (g l−1 h−1)


Volume of gas per volume of aerated liquid per minute



The work was carried out with the support of FEDER funds, as a part of a study within the SAPIENS project POCTI/EQU/47689/2002 entitled “Enhancement of bubble and drop mass transfer processes using additives”.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa Lopes da Silva
    • 1
  • Ana Mendes
    • 1
  • Rui L. Mendes
    • 2
  • Vítor Calado
    • 1
  • Sebastião S. Alves
    • 3
  • Jorge M. T. Vasconcelos
    • 3
  • Alberto Reis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Engenharia, Tecnologia e Inovação, Departamento de BiotecnologiaUnidade de Bioengenharia e BioprocessosLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto Nacional de Engenharia, Tecnologia e Inovação, Departamento de Energias RenováveisUnidade de BiomassaLisboaPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto Superior Técnico, Departamento de Engenharia Química e BiológicaCentro de Engenharia Biológica e QuímicaLisboaPortugal

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