Characterization of the growth, chlorophyll content and lipid accumulation in a marine microalgae Dunaliella tertiolecta under different nitrogen to phosphorus ratios

Research paper by Donghui Song, Bo Xi, Jing Sun

Indexed on: 13 Jan '16Published on: 13 Jan '16Published in: Journal of Ocean University of China


Microalgal lipids are regarded as main future feedstock of biofuels for its higher efficiency of accumulation and sustainable production. In order to investigate the effect of various nitrogen to phosphorus ratios on cells growth, chlorophyll content and accumulation of lipids in Dunaliella tertiolecta, experiments were carried out in modified microalgal medium with inorganic nitrogen (nitrate-nitrogen) or organic nitrogen (urea-nitrogen) as the sole nitrogen source at initial N:P ratios ranging from 1:1 to 32:1. The favorable N:P of 16:1 in the nitrate-N or urea-N medium yielded the maximum cell density and specific growth rate. Decrease in chlorophyll content were observed at the N:P of 4:1 in both nitrate-N and urea-N cultures. It was also observed that the maximum lipids concentration was obtained at the N:P of 4:1 in both nitrate and urea nutrient medium. The lipid productivity and lipid content of cultures in the urea-N medium at the N:P of 4:1were markedly higher than those from cultures with other N:P ratios (p < 0.05). The results of this work illustrate the possibility that higher ratios of nitrogen to phosphorus have enhancing effect on cells growth of D. tertiolecta. Conversely, higher lipid accumulation is associated with a decrease in chlorophyll content under lower ratios of nitrogen to phosphorus. The results confirm the hypothesis of this study that a larger metabolic flux has been channeled to lipid accumulation in D. tertiolecta cells when the ratios of nitrogen to phosphorus drop below a critical level.