Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 969–979 | Cite as

Effects of salinity changes on growth, photosynthetic activity, biochemical composition, and lipid productivity of marine microalga Tetraselmis suecica

  • Wanvisa Pugkaew
  • Metha Meetam
  • Kittisak Yokthongwattana
  • Namkhang Leeratsuwan
  • Prayad PokethitiyookEmail author


Salinity is an important factor affecting microalgal production yield especially under the uncontrollable environments of outdoor cultivation systems. Elucidating the optimal salinity range for algal biomass and high-value biochemical production might help to increase the production potential and reduce cultivation cost. This study examined the effects of salinity changes from that of normal seawater level (30 ppt) to various salinities from 10 to 60 ppt on growth, biomass, photosynthesis, morphology, biochemical composition, fatty acid composition, and volumetric productivity of the marine microalga Tetraselmis suecica. The optimal salinity for biomass production of T. suecica was in the range from 20 to 60 ppt. Severe growth inhibition, alterations in cell morphology, and reduction of photosynthetic rate were found at low salinity of 10 ppt, suggesting that the algal cells suffered from osmotic and ionic imbalance. Total protein, carbohydrate, and lipid content were not significantly affected under the different salinities, although the increase in salinity from 30 to 50 and 60 ppt improved the total lipid productivity by nearly 22%. Fatty acid composition and content remained unchanged over the range of salinities. The predominant fatty acids were of C16 to C18 chain lengths, whereas eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was the major long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA). Together these results demonstrate that a wide range of salinities are suitable for cultivation of in T. suecica without a compromise in biomass yield and biochemical composition.


Lipid productivity Microalgae Photosynthesis Salinity Tetraselmis suecica 



We are grateful to Assoc. Prof. Philip D. Round for his assistance in English proof-reading and editing the manuscript.

Funding information

This research was supported by PTT Research and Technology Institute, the Royal Golden Jubilee Ph.D. Program of Thailand (Thailand Research Fund), the Center of Excellence on Environmental Health and Toxicology, Science & Technology Postgraduate Education and Research Development Office (PERDO), and Ministry of Education, Thailand.

Supplementary material

10811_2018_1619_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
Fig. S1 Neighbor-Joining tree based on ITS sequence of microalga Tetraselmis used in this study and related sequences from the GenBank database. Numbers show bootstrap levels of confidence. The bootstrap value was obtained from 10,000 iterations. The scale under the tree corresponds to genetic distance. Accession numbers for the reference sequences are in front of their scientific name. The strain used in this study is underlined. (DOCX 30 kb)
10811_2018_1619_MOESM2_ESM.docx (881 kb)
Fig. S2 Light microscope showing morphological characteristics of Tetraselmis suecica (magnification at 1000×) grown at different salinities; (a) inoculums, 7 days after grown at (b) 30 ppt (control), (c) 10 ppt, (d) 20 ppt, (e) 40 ppt, (f) 50 ppt, (g) 60 ppt of salinity, and (h) 24 h after inoculated in 10 ppt. Arrows indicate algal cells with mucus layer. (DOCX 878 kb)
10811_2018_1619_MOESM3_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wanvisa Pugkaew
    • 1
    • 2
  • Metha Meetam
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kittisak Yokthongwattana
    • 3
    • 4
  • Namkhang Leeratsuwan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Prayad Pokethitiyook
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Center of Excellence on Environmental Health and Toxicology (EHT), CHEMinistry of EducationBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of ScienceMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Center for Excellence in Protein and Enzyme Technology, Faculty of ScienceMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand

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