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Tagging of biomolecules with deuterated water (D2O) in commercially important microalgae


To understand the effect of any biomolecules in specific metabolic pathways in humans, bioavailability and for other basic understanding, stable isotopically-labelled biomolecules (preferably deuterated) is the fundamental pre-requisite. Production of deuterated biomolecules such as, astaxanthin, β-carotene, lutein, chlorophyll-a, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) by metabolic tagging have been shown in commercially important microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis and Phaeodactylum tricornutum. These microalgae were grown in appropriate optimized medium supplemented with 25 % (v/v) deuterated water. LC–MS analysis showed a maximum of 20, 25, 23, 24, and 27 % replacement of hydrogen by deuterium atoms respectively in astaxanthin, β-carotene, lutein, chlorophyll-a, and EPA. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the production of deuterated astaxanthin, chlorophyll-a and EPA by these microalgae.

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We acknowledge the financial support of Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre facilities at Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland by Enterprise Ireland. We thank our postdoctoral researchers for critical reading of the previous version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sushanta Kumar Saha or Patrick Murray.

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Sushanta Kumar Saha and Jeremiah Hayes equally contributed to the study.

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Saha, S.K., Hayes, J., Moane, S. et al. Tagging of biomolecules with deuterated water (D2O) in commercially important microalgae. Biotechnol Lett 35, 1067–1072 (2013).

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  • Deuterated astaxanthin
  • Deuterated β-carotene
  • Deuterated chlorophyll-a
  • Deuterated eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Deuterated lutein
  • Microalgae