Effect of Temperature and Nutrient Limitation on the Growth and Lipid Content of Three Selected Microalgae (Dunaliella tertiolecta, Nannochloropsis sp. and Scenedesmus sp.) for Biodiesel Production  

Nita Rukminasari
Department of Fisheries, Marine Science and Fisheries Faculty, Hasanuddin University, Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan Km. 10, Makassar - 90245, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Marine Science, 2013, Vol. 3, No. 17   doi: 10.5376/ijms.2013.03.0017
Received: 18 Mar., 2013    Accepted: 07 Apr., 2013    Published: 06 Apr., 2013
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Rukminasari, 2013, Effect of Temperature and Nutrient Limitation on the Growth and Lipid Content of Three Selected Microalgae (Dunaliella tertiolecta, Nannochloropsis sp. and Scenedesmus sp.) for Biodiesel Production, International Journal of Marine Science, Vol.3, No.17 135-144 (doi: 10.5376/ijms.2013.03.0017)


Microalgae is one of potential source for biodiesel due to high efficiency of solar energy conversion to chemical energy. Several microalgae also have high lipid content per dry weight of biomass. The aims of the present work to study the effects of temperature and nutrient depletion on the growth and lipid content of three selected microalgae (Dunaliella tertiolecta, Nannochloropsis sp.  and Scenedesmus sp.) in view of their possible utilization as raw materials for biodiesel production. In addition, various lipid analysis methods were applied, such as gravimetric, Nile Red staining and FTIR spectroscopy. Algal growth and lipid content was strongly influenced by the variation of tested parameters; indeed, an increase or decrease temperature from ambient temparature and nutrient depletion practically increase in lipid content. Nile Red staining and FTIR spectroscopy are effective tool to analyse rapidly of lipid content from selected microalgae.

Biodiesel; Dunaliella tertiolecta; Nannochloropsis sp.; Scenedesmus sp.; Lipid; Nile Red staining; FTIR spectroscopy

Nowadays, the global energy system is predominantly based on utilization of fossil fuels, coal oil and natural gas. This system has several problems, such as: 1) it creates pollution on local., regional and global scales, 2) the reserves of fossil fuel are limited while on the other hand the demand for fossil fuel increases dramatically with the increasing population as a consequence creating a global energy crisis and 3) fossil fuel produces greenhouse gas emissions (NOx, CO2 and SOx) that cause global warming and climate change problems (Barbir, 2009).
For the past ten years, fuel production from biomass (biofuel) has received considerable attention from researchers and scientists as it is a biodegradable, renewable and non-toxic fuel (Mutanda et al., 2010). Biofuel based on vegetable oil, bioethanol and biodiesel represent promising energy sources to displace fossil fuel (Lardon et al., 2009). Biodiesel from microalgae seems to be a promising renewable biofuel that has the potential to completely displace petroleum-derived transport fuel without adversely affecting the supply of food and other crop products (Chisti, 2008). Shay (1993) reported that algae were one of the best sources of biodiesel. In fact algae are the highest yielding feed stock for biodiesel. It can produce up to 250 times the amount of oil per acre as soybean and could produce 500 to 1 500 gallons of biodiesel per acre per year in open ponds (Shehan et al., 1998). Algae produce 7 to 31 times greater yields of oil than palm oil due to their ability to accumulate lipid and their very high actual photosynthetic yield: about 3%~8% of solar energy can be converted to biomass whereas observed yields for terrestrial plants are about 0.5% (Hossain et al., 2008; Lardon et al., 2009; Huntley et al., 2007; Li et al., 2008). Microalgae are estimated to produce biomass greater than the fastest growing terrestrial plant with a rate account for 50 times (Li et al., 2008). In addition microalgae also have a varies lipid content of 1%~85% by dry weight (Chisti, 2007; Sheehan et al., 1998; Rodolfi et al., 2009). Biodiesel yield depends strongly upon the lipid content of the algal strain. Some algal strains can contain lipid up to 60% of dry mass (Shehan et al., 1997; Chisti, 2007). Algal oils are usually accumulated as membrane components, storage products, metabolites and sources of energy under some special production conditions (Deng et al., 2009).
For biodiesel product, the economic feasibility of microalgal mass culture have to be taken into consideration, the searching of microalgal species with high lipid content and high cell growth is a great importance (Lv et al., 2010). However, there are two categories of microalgae that used for lipid production such as: 1) high lipid content but low growth rate, for example Botryococcus braunii with lipid content of 50% but had low biomass productivity of 28 mg/L/day (Dayananda et al., 2007); 2) high growth rate but low lipid content, such as, Chlorella vulgaris (Griffiths and Harrison, 2009).
Biodiesel consists of fatty acid methyl esters, which commonly are derived from triacyglycerols (TAGs) by transesterification with a short chain alcohol such as methanol, with glycerol as a by product (Chen et al., 2010). Most microalgal species produce largae amounts of TAG under stress condition, e.g, under nutrient depletion and temperature stressed (Chen et al., 2010).
Enhancement lipid production in cell at various cultivation condition such as nitrogen deprivation and phosphate limitation (Rodolfi et al., 2009; Phadwal and Singh, 2003; Cheng et al., 2010), light intensity and temperature stressed (Tsovenis et al., 2003; Norman et al., 1985), iron suplementation and silicon deficiency (Liu et al., 2008; Griffiths and Harrison, 2009) and different CO2 concentration (Chiu et al., 2009; Ho et al., 2010) had been tested. Among them, nutrient depriviation has been the most studied aspect. Cheng et al (2010) reported that nitrogen starved cell of Dunaliella tertiolecta had accumulated significant amounts of neutral lipids by day 3 and reached maximum lipid content per OD unit by day 4 of culture. Rodolfi et al (2009) found that N-deprived could stimulate the lipid accumulation with low biomass productivity. Nitrogen starvation created an environmental stresses for microalgae to increase a lipid production as a consequence of inhibiting cell division (Sukenik and Livne, 1991). It showed that lipid accumulation was commonly correlated by nitrogen limited growth rates and due to overall the low lipid production (Lv et al., 2010).
Most previous study have investigated separately the effect of those factors to cell growth or lipid production of various microalgal species, they had hardly been investigated simultaneously and comprehensively between cultivation condition, especially for three different species (Dunaliella tertiolecta, Scenedesmus sp.and Nannochloropsis sp.) which are promosing species as a lipid production from microalgae. Noteworthy that chlorophyll play an essential role for capturing CO2 and solar energy to generate the metabolic flux for not only cell growth but also lipid accumulation of microalgae photosynthesis (Cohen et al., 1988; Li et al., 2008). Therefore, to get better understanding of the relationship between cell growth and lipid accumulation, the measurement chloropyll a (Chl a) of cell during the cultivation process is important to be done.
In this study, the batch culture of three species microalgae (Dunaliella tertiolecta, Scenedesmus sp. and Nannochloropsis sp.) were carried out. The variation methods of lipid measurement from cultured species were applied, including gravimetric method of Bligh and Dyer (1959), Nile Red staining method (Cooksey et al., 1987; Elsey et al., 2007; Chen et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2011) and FTIR method (Dean et al., 2010; Giordano et al., 2001). The effects of cultivation conditions including nutrient and temperature condition on cell growth, Chl a content and lipid content of Dunaliella tertiolecta, Scenedesmus sp. and Nannochloropsis sp. were thoroughly investigated. The influence of culture conditions on the cell growth, chl a content and lipid production were further discussed. Finally, the different method of lipid analysis were compared and discussed thoroughly.
2 Materials and Methods
2.1 Microalgae and culture medium
Three microalgal species were used in this study, specifically Dunaliella tertiolecta, Scenedesmus sp. and Nannochloropsis sp. (all species from culture collection of Algae, Algal Physiology Laboratory, Biological Science, Monash University). All microalgae are eukaryotic photosynthesic microorganisms that grow rapidly as a consequence of their simple structure (Li et al., 2008). Dunaliella tertiolecta and Nannochloropsis sp. are marine microalgal were cultured in PhK medium, cons
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