Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 523–529 | Cite as

Influence of microalgae cell wall characteristics on protein extractability and determination of nitrogen-to-protein conversion factors

  • Carl SafiEmail author
  • Michaël Charton
  • Olivier Pignolet
  • Françoise Silvestre
  • Carlos Vaca-Garcia
  • Pierre-Yves Pontalier


Additional evidence about the influence of the cell wall physical and chemical characteristics on protein extractability was determined by calculating the conversion factors of five different microalgae known to have different cell wall composition, and their protein extracts. The conversion factors obtained for crude rigid cell walled Chlorella vulgaris, Nannochloropsis oculata and Haematococcus pluvialis were 6.35, 6.28 and 6.25, respectively, but for their protein extracts the values were lower with 5.96, 5.86 and 5.63. On the other hand, conversion factor obtained for fragile cell walled microalgae Porphyridium cruentum and Athrospira platensis was 6.35 for the former and 6.27 for the latter, with no significant difference for their protein extract with 6.34 for the former and 6.21 for the latter. In addition, the highest hydro-soluble protein percentage recovered from total protein was for P. cruentum 80.3 % and A. platensis 69.5 % but lower for C. vulgaris with 43.3 %, N. oculata with 33.3 % and H. pluvialis with 27.5 %. The study spotted the light on the influence of the cell wall on evaluating the conversion factor and protein extractability. In addition, it showed the necessity of finding the conversion factor every time accurate protein quantification is required, and proved that there is not a universal conversion factor that can be recommended.


Amino acid profile Cell wall Conversion factor Nitrogen Protein extract 



The authors would like to thank Alpha Biotech for providing the biomass and also we are thankful to Dr Philippe Michaud, Dr Celine Laroche, Mr Jean-François Fabre and Mrs Cécile Pouzet for their support and expertise. This work was supported by the French National Research Agency (ANR) in the context of Algoraffinerie project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Safi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michaël Charton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Olivier Pignolet
    • 1
    • 2
  • Françoise Silvestre
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carlos Vaca-Garcia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pierre-Yves Pontalier
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.INP-ENSIACET, Laboratoire de Chimie Agro-industrielle (LCA)Université de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  2. 2.INRA, UMR 1010 CAIToulouseFrance

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