Chlorella vulgaris cultivation in airlift photobioreactor with transparent draft tube: effect of hydrodynamics, light and carbon dioxide on biochemical profile particularly ω-6/ω-3 fatty acid ratio

  • C. K. Madhubalaji
  • T Sarat Chandra
  • V. S. Chauhan
  • R. Sarada
  • Sandeep N. MudliarEmail author
Original Article


Chlorella vulgaris is used for food and feed applications due to its nutraceutical, antioxidant and anticancer properties. An airlift photobioreactor comprising transparent draft tube was used for C. vulgaris cultivation. The effect of reactor parameters like hydrodynamics (0.3–1.5 vvm), light intensity (85–400 μmol m−2 s−1), photoperiod (12–24 h) and gas-phase carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration (5–15% v/v) were evaluated on microalgae and associated bacterial growth, biochemical profile; with special emphasis on ω-3, ω-6 fatty acids, and vitamin B12. The optimal growth of C. vulgaris without CO2 supplementation was observed at 1.2 vvm, which was associated with higher algal productivity, chlorophyll, vitamin B12 content, and bacterial load along with 72% of nitrate removal. The higher light intensity (400 μmol m−2 s−1) and photoperiod (24:0) increased biomass productivity and ω-3 fatty acid content (in lipid) up to 2–3 fold. The elevated levels of gas-phase CO2 concentration (15% v/v) enhanced EPA content up to 7% and biomass productivity up to 171 mg L−1 day−1. However, the increase in CO2 concentration lowered vitamin B12 content (up to 30%) and bacterial load (2–3 log). Also, all the cultivation conditions favoured desirable ω-6/ω-3 ratio(in the range of 1–2).


Airlift photobioreactor C. vulgaris CO2 supplementation ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids Vitamin B12 



Saturated fatty acid


Polyunsaturated fatty acid


Monounsaturated fatty acid


α-Linolenic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Litres per minute


Photosynthetic photon flux density


Photosynthetic active radiation


Fatty acid methyl esters


Saponification value


Degree of unsaturation


Long-chain saturated factor


Iodine value


Cetane number


Cold filter plugging point


Carbon dioxide



The authors wish to thank the financial support of DBT, Govt. of India, New Delhi, India (Grant Number BT/PR6552/PBD/26/360/2012). CKMB is thankful to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for providing CSIR-SRF fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13197_2019_4118_MOESM1_ESM.docx (389 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 388 kb)


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Copyright information

© Association of Food Scientists & Technologists (India) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Cell Biotechnology DepartmentCSIR-Central Food Technological Research InstituteMysoreIndia
  2. 2.Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR)GhaziabadIndia

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