Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 3193–3202 | Cite as

Truncated light-harvesting chlorophyll antenna size in Chlorella vulgaris improves biomass productivity

  • Won-Sub Shin
  • Bongsoo Lee
  • Byeong-ryool Jeong
  • Yong Keun Chang
  • Jong-Hee Kwon


Microalgae have been proposed as eco-friendly feedstocks for biodiesel production, because they accumulate large amounts of lipids and increase their biomass through photosynthesis. However, the photosynthetic efficiency of microalgae is too low for this strategy to be economically feasible. In an effort to overcome this issue, random mutants with reduced chlorophyll antenna size were generated by ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS)-mediated mutagenesis of Chlorella vulgaris. The antenna size mutant, herein designated E5, exhibited 56.5 and 75.8 % decreases in chlorophyll a and b contents, respectively, with significant reductions in the expression levels of peripheral light-harvesting antenna proteins in photosystem II. The saturated photosynthetic activity and electron transport rate of the E5 mutant were significantly higher and also showed reduced non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), compared to those of the wild type. Consequentially, the E5 mutant cultures achieved 44.5 % improvement in biomass productivity under high light (200 μmol photons m−2 s−1). These results suggest that improving the photosynthetic efficiency of microalgae could greatly enhance their biomass production, and such mutant strains can be applicable for large-scale outdoor cultivation which is typically exposed to high light intensity.


Microalgae Light-harvesting chlorophyll antenna Photosynthetic productivity Chlorella vulgaris 



This work was supported by a grant from the Advanced Biomass R&D Center (ABC) of Global Frontier Project, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (ABC-2010-0029728 and 2011–0031350) and a grant from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (2015R1C1A1A01054303).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Won-Sub Shin
    • 1
  • Bongsoo Lee
    • 1
  • Byeong-ryool Jeong
    • 1
  • Yong Keun Chang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jong-Hee Kwon
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringKAISTDaejeonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Advanced Biomass R&D CenterKAISTDaejeonSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Food Science and Technology, Institute of Agriculture and Life ScienceGyeongsang National UniversityJinjuSouth Korea

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