Heterotrophic growth of microalgae: metabolic aspects

  • Daniela Morales-Sánchez
  • Oscar A. Martinez-Rodriguez
  • John Kyndt
  • Alfredo MartinezEmail author


Microalgae are considered photoautotrophic organisms, however several species have been found living in environments where autotrophic metabolism is not viable. Heterotrophic cultivation, i.e. cell growth and propagation with the use of an external carbon source under dark conditions, can be used to study the metabolic aspects of microalgae that are not strictly related to photoautotrophic growth and to obtain high value products. This manuscript reviews studies related to the metabolic aspects of heterotrophic grow of microalga. From the physiological and metabolic perspective, the screening of microalgal strains in different environments and the development of molecular and metabolic engineering tools, will lead to an increase in the number of known microalgae species that growth under strict heterotrophic conditions and the variety of carbon sources used by these microorganisms.


Microalgae Heterotrophic growth Carbon sources Glucose Acetate 



We thank Shirley Ainsworth for providing support for this review. This work was supported by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Grant DGAPA/PAPIIT/UNAM IT200312, and Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares—Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (ASA-CONACyT) Grant 2014-244329. DMS held a scholarship (Number 170123) from CONACyT-México.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela Morales-Sánchez
    • 1
    • 3
  • Oscar A. Martinez-Rodriguez
    • 1
  • John Kyndt
    • 2
  • Alfredo Martinez
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Ingeniería Celular y Biocatálisis, Instituto de BiotecnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCuernavacaMexico
  2. 2.College of Science and TechnologyBellevue UniversityBellevueUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural ResourcesUniversity of Nebraska–LincolnLincolnUSA

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