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Simultaneous growth and neutral lipid accumulation in microalgae

Klok, Anne J., Martens, Dirk E., Wijffels, René H., Lamers, Packo P.
Bioresource technology 2013 v.134 pp. 233-243
Neochloris, absorption, biomass, continuous systems, energy, energy use and consumption, lipid bodies, microalgae, nitrogen, triacylglycerols
In this paper the hypothesis was tested whether TAG accumulation serves as an energy sink when microalgae are exposed to an energy imbalance caused by nutrient limitation. In our continuous culture system, excess light absorption and growth-limiting nitrogen supply rates were combined, which resulted in accumulation of TAG (from 1.5% to 12.4% w/w) in visible lipid bodies in Neochloris oleoabundans, while cell replication was sustained. A fourfold increase in TAG productivity showed that TAG indeed served as an energy sink. However, the bulk of excess energy was dissipated leading to a significantly reduced biomass productivity and yield of biomass on light. This demonstrates that when aiming at industrial TAG production, sustaining efficient light energy use under nutrient stress is an important trait to look for in potential production organisms.