Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 309–318 | Cite as

Antioxidant properties and lipid composition of selected microalgae

  • Arjun H. BanskotaEmail author
  • Sandra Sperker
  • Roumiana Stefanova
  • Patrick J. McGinn
  • Stephen J. B. O’Leary


Marine and freshwater microalgae were evaluated for their antioxidant properties and lipid composition. Both lipophilic (L) and hydrophilic (H) oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values were measured. Among the tested microalgae, the marine microalga Nannochloropsis granulata showed the highest total ORAC value at 6948 μmol TE (100 g)−1, followed by the freshwater species Neochloris oleoabundans at 4508 μmol TE (100 g)−1 and Scenedesmus obliquus at 4406 μmol TE (100 g)−1 of algal biomass. Freeze-dried algal biomass was also examined for lipid content by the Folch method. Lipid content ranged from 30.9 to 49.3% and linear regression analysis revealed a statistically significant correlation between the lipid content and the ORAC values. Tested microalgae showed moderate and dose-dependent DPPH radical scavenging activity. The total phenol assay shows that marine microalga Tetraselmis chui had the highest phenolic content at 57.5 μmol GAE g−1 and N. oleoabundans had the lowest at 26.6 μmol GAE g−1 of MeOH extract. A statistically significant correlation was detected between DPPH radical scavenging activity and the phenolic content. Fatty acid analysis revealed that polyunsaturated fatty acids constituted > 45% of the total fatty acid content in N. oleoabundans, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Porphyridium aerugineum, S. obliquus, and Scenedesmus sp. Total carotenoid concentration ranged from 1.1 to 29.5 mg g−1 of dry algal biomass. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene are common carotenoids found in most of the algae tested. P. tricornutum contains significant amount of fucoxanthin at 24.3 mg g−1 algal biomass. These carotenoids also contributed to the overall antioxidative activity of microalgae.


Microalgae ORAC Total phenolic DPPH radical Fatty acids Carotenoids 



The authors are thankful to all NRC colleagues involved in algal biomass production which was used for this study. This is NRC publication no. 56282.


  1. Ahmed F, Fanning K, Netzel M, Turner W, Li Y, Schenk PM (2014) Profiling of carotenoids and antioxidant capacity of microalgae from subtropical coastal and brackish waters. Food Chem 165:300–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. AOAC (2000) AOAC Official Method 991.39, Fatty acids in encapsulated fish oils and fish oil methyl and ethyl esters, chapter 41. AOAC International, Gaithersburg pp 26–28Google Scholar
  3. Banskota AH, Gallant P, Stefanova R, Melanson R, O’Leary SJB (2013a) Monogalactosyldiacylglycerols, potent nitric oxide inhibitors from the marine microalga Tetraselmis chui. Nat Prod Res 27:1084–1090CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banskota AH, Stefanova R, Sperker S, Melanson R, O’Leary SJB (2013b) Five new galactolipids from the freshwater microalga Porphyridium aerugineum and their nitric oxide inhibitory activity. J Appl Phycol 25:951–960CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Banskota AH, Stefanova R, Gallant P, McGinn PJ (2013c) Mono- and digalactosyldiacylglycerols: potent nitric oxide inhibitors from the marine microalga Nannochloropsis granulata. J Appl Phycol 25:349–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banskota AH, Stefanova R, Sperker S, McGinn PJ (2013d) New diacylglyceryltrimethylhomoserines from the marine microalga Nannochloropsis granulata and their nitric oxide inhibitory activity. J Appl Phycol 25:1513–1521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Banskota AH, Steevensz A, Stefanova R, Sperker S, Melanson R, Osborne JA, O’Leary SJB, Melanson J (2016) Monogalactosyldiacylglycerols: lipase inhibitor from the freshwater microalga Chlorella sorokiniana. J Appl Phycol 28:169–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borowitzka MA (2013) High-value products from microalgae—their development and commercialization. J Appl Phycol 25:743–756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Choochote W, Suklampoo L, Ochaikul D (2014) Evaluation of antioxidant capacities of green microalgae. J Appl Phycol 26:43–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Folch J, Lees M, Stanley GHS (1957) A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissues. J Biol Chem 226:497–509PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Gantar M, Svirčev Z (2008) Microalgae and cyanobacteria: food for thought. J Phycol 44:260–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goiris K, Muylaert K, Fraeye I, Foubert I, Brabanter JD, Cooman LD (2012) Antioxidant potential of microalgae in relation to their phenolic and carotenoid content. J Appl Phycol 24:1477–1486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hatano T, Edamatsu R, Mori A, Fujita Y, Yasuhara T, Yoshida T, Okuda T (1989) Effects of the interaction of tannins with co-exisating substances. VI. Effects of tannins and related polyphenols on superoxide anion radical, and on 1,1-diphenyl-picryhydrazyl radical. Chem Pharm Bull 37:2016–2021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Holub DJ, Holub BJ (2004) Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils and cardiovascular disease. Mol Cell Biochem 263:217–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Krinsky NI (2001) Carotenoids as antioxidants. Nutrition 17:815–817CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Miranda MS, Cintra RG, Barros SBM, Mancini-Filho J (1998) Antioxidant activity of the microalga Spirulina maxima. Braz J Med Biol Res 31:1075–1079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Murthy KNC, Vanitha A, Rajesh J, Swamy MM, Sowmya PR, Ravishankar GA (2005) In vivo antioxidant activity of carotenoids from Dunaliella salina—a green microalga. Life Sci 76:1381–1390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C (2008) Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. Int J Biomed Sci 4:89–95PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Romay C, Armesto J, Remirez D, González R, Ledon N, García I (1998) Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of C-phycocyanin from blue-green algae. Inflamm Res 47:36–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Safafar H, Wagenen JV, Moller P, Jacobsen C (2015) Carotenoids, phenolic compounds and tocopherols contribute to the antioxidative properties of some microalgae species grown on industrial wastewater. Mar Drugs 13:7339–7356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sen S, Chakraborty R (2011) The role of antioxidants in human health. In: Hepel M, Andreescu S (eds) Oxidative stress: diagnostics, prevention, and therapy. American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., pp 1–37Google Scholar
  22. Spolaore P, Joannis-Cassan C, Duran E, Isambert A (2006) Commercial application of microalgae. J Biosci Bioeng 101:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stahl W, Sies H (2003) Antioxidant activity of carotenoids. Mol Asp Med 24:345–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tannin-Spitz T, Bergman M, van-Moppes D, Grossman S, Arad S (2005) Antioxidant activity of the polysaccharide of the red microalga Porphyridium sp. J Appl Phycol 17:215–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tibbetts SM, Melanson RJ, Park KC, Banskota AH, Stefanova R, McGinn PJ (2015) Nutritional evaluation of whole and lipid-extracted biomass of the microalga Scenedesmus sp. AMDD isolated in Saskatchewan, Canada for animal feed: proximate, amino acid, fatty acid, carotenoid and elemental composition. Current Biotech 4:530–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Vadlapudi V (2012) Antioxidant activities of marine algae: a review. In: Cappasso A (ed) Medicinal plants as antioxidant agents: understanding their mechanism of action and therapeutic efficacy. Research Signpost, Kerala, pp 189–203Google Scholar
  27. Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL (2004) Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J Agric Food Chem 52:4026–4037CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Yingying S, Hui W, Ganlin G, Yinfang P, Binlun Y (2014) The isolation and antioxidant activity of polysaccharides from the marine microalgae Isochrysis galbana. Carbohydr Polym 113:22–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zhang Q, Zhang Z, Shen J, Silva S, Dennis DA, Barrow CJ (2006) A simple 96-well microplate method for estimation of total polyphenol content in seaweeds. J Appl Phycol 18:445–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Algal Carbon Conversion Flagship Program, Aquatic and Crop Resource DevelopmentNational Research Council CanadaHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations