Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 345–353 | Cite as

Potential of a local microalgal strain isolated from anaerobic digester effluents for nutrient removal

  • Camila Tapia
  • Fernando G. Fermoso
  • Antonio Serrano
  • Álvaro Torres
  • David Jeison
  • Mariella Rivas
  • Gonzalo Ruiz
  • Carlos Vílchez
  • María CuaresmaEmail author


Anaerobic digestion effluents contain nitrogen and phosphorous which require reduction to accomplish the corresponding discharge legislation. Microalgae can be used as an alternative treatment to reach the required effluent quality. However, only robust and fast growing microalgae species are required in order to ensure stable and efficient nutrient removal under the conditions existing in wastewater treatment plants. Consequently, maintaining a stable microalgae community adapted to this environment becomes a key issue. In this work, a local microalgal strain was isolated from an anaerobic digester effluent (ADE). Microalgal growth was defined as the isolation criteria. The isolated microalgae were identified by molecular techniques as Chlorella sorokiniana (strain S12/S13/S16). Nutrient removal capacity from the ADE was assessed for the isolated strain by cultivation on ADE in repeated batch mode. Growth was limited by phosphorus, which reached removal efficiencies close to 100%. Under such conditions, biomass productivity and growth rate were barely enhanced with CO2-enriched air not compensating the extra cost of CO2 addition. Finally, in order to close the process scheme, the methane potential of the isolated C. sorokiniana was assessed. The methane production capacity was 376 mL CH4 g−1 volatile solids, similar to values reported for other microalgae species. The novelty of this work lies in the isolation of a robust local microalgal strain that ensures a high nutrient removal capacity from ADE. The efficiency and stability of the nutrient removal process might be enhanced by isolation and controlled growth of local, robust, and also fast-growth microalgae species.


Anaerobic digestion Algae Bioprocesses Nutrient removal Wastewater treatment 



The authors would like to dedicate this work to the memory of Prof. Gonzalo Ruiz-Filippi, one of the authors of this manuscript, who passed away by February 2016.

Funding information

This work was supported by the 7th Framework Programme of European Union, under the framework of the Algaenet Project (Grant number PIRSES-GA-2011-295165).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Algal Biotechnology Group, CIDERTA and Faculty of SciencesUniversity of Huelva and Marine International Campus of Excellence (CEIMAR)HuelvaSpain
  2. 2.Escuela de Ingeniería BioquímicaPontificia Universidad Católica de ValparaísoValparaísoChile
  3. 3.Instituto de la Grasa (C.S.I.C.)SevilleSpain
  4. 4.Chemical Engineering DepartmentUniversidad de La FronteraTemucoChile
  5. 5.Bioenergy and Environmental Sustainability, CICITEM, and Algal Biotechnology and Sustainability Laboratory, Marine Sciences and Biological Resources Faculty (FACIMAR)University of AntofagastaAntofagastaChile

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