Effects of carbon source and light intensity on the growth and total lipid production of three microalgae under different culture conditions

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We attempted to enhance the growth and total lipid production of three microalgal species, Isochrysis galbana LB987, Nannochloropsis oculata CCAP849/1, and Dunaliella salina, which are capable of accumulating high content of lipid in cells. Low nitrogen concentration under photoautotrophic conditions stimulated total lipid production, but a decreasing total lipid content and an increasing biomass were observed with increasing nitrogen concentration. Among the different carbon sources tested for heterotrophic cultivation, glucose improved the growth of all three strains. The optimal glucose concentration for growth of I. galbana LB987 and N. oculata CCAP849/1 was 0.02 M, and that of D. salina was 0.05 M. Enhanced growth occurred when they were cultivated under heterotrophic or mixotrophic conditions compared with photoautotrophic conditions. Meanwhile, high total lipid accumulation in cells occurred when they were cultivated under photoautotrophic or mixotrophic conditions. During mixotrophic cultivation, biomass production was not affected significantly by light intensity; however, both chlorophyll concentration and total lipid content increased dramatically with increasing light intensity up to 150 µmol/m2/s. The amount and composition ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in cells were different from each other depending on both species and light intensity. The highest accumulation of total fatty acid (C16–C18) among the three strains was found from cells of N. oculata CCAP849/1, which indicates that this species can be used as a source for production of biodiesel.

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This work was supported by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning Research Grant (NRF-2015R1D1A3A01020290) and in part by the Human Resources Development program (20114010100090) of the KETEP grant funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Republic of Korea.

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Correspondence to Si Wouk Kim.

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Gim, G.H., Ryu, J., Kim, M.J. et al. Effects of carbon source and light intensity on the growth and total lipid production of three microalgae under different culture conditions. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 43, 605–616 (2016) doi:10.1007/s10295-016-1741-y

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  • Microalgae
  • Biomass
  • Lipid content
  • Light intensity
  • Chlorophyll
  • Fatty acid