Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 663–673 | Cite as

Comparative evaluation of phototrophic microtiter plate cultivation against laboratory-scale photobioreactors

  • Holger Morschett
  • Danny Schiprowski
  • Jannis Rohde
  • Wolfgang Wiechert
  • Marco OldigesEmail author
Research Paper


Extended cultivation times, rendering phototrophic bioprocess development time inefficient, resulted in the recent development of micro-photobioreactors enabling accelerated process development. However, especially for laboratory photobioreactors, only little is known concerning the influence of design on process performance. Thus, the aim of the present investigation was to evaluate the scalability of a microtiter plate-based parallelized micro-photobioreactor against a representative set of established laboratory photobioreactors. Lipid production by Chlorella vulgaris was used as a model system. During exponential growth, the microtiter plate cultures achieved maximal growth rates of ca. 1.44 ± 0.02 day−1 being in good agreement with the larger systems. Moreover, cultures in the micro-photobioreactor could be kept in the exponential phase up to the highest biomass concentrations most probably due to the beneficial light supply at this scale. Compared to the shake flask and test tube cultures, microtiter plate cultivation achieved an equivalent biomass yield, lipid content, and lipid fingerprint. In contrast, the flat-panel process resulted only in marginal productivity due to insufficient light supply. Thus, microtiter plates showed good scalability to the investigated laboratory photobioreactors as overall differences were rather small taking the differing scales into account.


Microalgae Microscale Parallelized cultivation Scalability Chlorella vulgaris 



The authors thank the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag for support and funding (Grant No. KF2519304CS3). We also thank Pamela Felden, Markus Jorissen, Kolja Mertens, and Carsten Müller (m2p-labs, Baesweiler, Germany) for support and cooperation within the project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors state that they have no conflicts of interest.

This study does not include research involving human participants or animals.

Supplementary material

449_2016_1731_MOESM1_ESM.tif (11 mb)
Supporting figure 1: Well-resolved liquid distribution in an MTP48B “FlowerPlate”, 0–1200 rpm shaking frequency, and 3 mm shaking diameter. Camera: D7000 (Nikon, Düsseldorf, Germany), flash: 44 AF1 (Metz mecatech, Zirndorf, Germany) (TIF 11233 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holger Morschett
    • 1
  • Danny Schiprowski
    • 1
  • Jannis Rohde
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Wiechert
    • 1
  • Marco Oldiges
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-1: BiotechnologyJülichGermany
  2. 2.Institute of BiotechnologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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