Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1435–1439 | Cite as

The effect of high pH on structural lipids in diatoms

  • Kristian SpillingEmail author
  • Ása Brynjólfsdóttir
  • Dagmar Enss
  • Heiko Rischer
  • Halldór Guðfinnur Svavarsson


We tested the hypothesis that increased pH reduces the amount of structural lipids. To do this, we used three different diatoms (Phaeodactylum tricornutum CCAP strain, P. tricornutum TV strain and Amphiprora sp). We tested the effect of rapid increase from pH 7.5 to 10 by adding NaOH. The total lipid content was reduced by 13, 36 and 47 % in the P. tricornutum CCAP strain, TV strain and Amphiprora sp., respectively, 1 h after increasing the pH. The P. tricornutum CCAP strain was used for further testing the effect of pH on the lipid content during active growth. This strain was cultivated at pH 7.5 and 10, and the pH was regulated by the CO2 inflow. The growth rate was similar (0.3 day−1) in both pH treatments, but the lipid content in the pH 10 treatment was on average 28 % lower than in the pH 7.5 treatment. Our data support the hypothesis that structural lipids are reduced when pH increases to high levels. The results suggest that regulating the pH during algae cultivation could be used to refine the lipid composition in the harvested algal biomass.


Membrane lipids Glycolipids Phospholipids Polyunsaturated fatty acids 



This study was funded by the Academy of Finland Research Programme “Sustainable Energy” (SusEn), the Nordic Energy Research Programme “N-INNER” and the Technology Development Fund in Iceland (grant no. 101253011). Additionally, a mobility grant was given to KS from the Nordic Marine Academy. We would also like to thank Hannes Lárus Jóhannsson, Sigrún Helgadóttir, Airi Hyrkäs and Jaana Rikkinen for their excellent technical assistance. The Amphiprora sp was isolated by Sigurbjörn Einarsson.

Supplementary material

10811_2012_9971_MOESM1_ESM.doc (28 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 28 kb)
10811_2012_9971_MOESM2_ESM.doc (27 kb)
ESM 2 (DOC 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristian Spilling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ása Brynjólfsdóttir
    • 2
  • Dagmar Enss
    • 3
  • Heiko Rischer
    • 3
  • Halldór Guðfinnur Svavarsson
    • 4
  1. 1.Marine Research CentreFinnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Blue Lagoon LtdGrindavikIceland
  3. 3.VTT Technical Research Centre of FinlandEspooFinland
  4. 4.School of Science and EngineeringReykjavik UniversityReykjavikIceland

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