Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1005–1016

Medium pH and nitrate concentration effects on accumulation of triacylglycerol in two members of the chlorophyta

  • Robert Gardner
  • Patrizia Peters
  • Brent Peyton
  • Keith E. Cooksey


Algal-derived biodiesel is of particular interest because of several factors including: the potential for a near-carbon-neutral life cycle, the prospective ability for algae to capture carbon dioxide generated from coal, and algae’s high per acre yield potential. Our group and others have shown that in nitrogen limitation, and for a single species of Chlorella, a rise in culture medium pH yields triacylglycerol (TAG) accumulation. To solidify and expand on these triggers, the influence and interaction of pH and nitrogen concentration on lipid production was further investigated on Chlorophyceae Scenedesmus sp. and Coelastrella sp. Growth was monitored optically and TAG accumulation was monitored by Nile red fluorescence and confirmed by gas chromatography. Both organisms grew in all treatments and TAG accumulation was observed by two distinct conditions: high pH and nitrogen limitation. The Scenedesmus sp. was shown to grow and produce lipids to a larger degree in alkaliphilic conditions (pH >9) and was used to further investigate the interplay between TAG accumulation from high pH and/or nitrate depletion. Results given here indicate that TAG accumulation per cell, monitored by Nile red fluorescence, correlates with pH at the time of nitrate depletion.


Triacylglycerol (TAG) Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) Nile red fluorescence Nile-red-specific fluorescence Chlorophyta 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Gardner
    • 1
  • Patrizia Peters
    • 2
  • Brent Peyton
    • 1
  • Keith E. Cooksey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA

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