Characterization of microalga Nannochloropsis sp. mutants for improved production of biofuels

Kandiah Anandarajah, Guruvaiah Mahendraperumal, Milton Sommerfeld, Qiang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


To select microalgae with a high biomass, chlorophyll a, lipid, and fatty acid content of two mutants (LARB-202-2 and LARB-202-3) and their parent wild type of the unicellular green alga Nannochloropsis sp were cultured with air containing 1% CO2 for a week in 1L bubbled tubes with continuous illumination at 140 or 300μmolphotonsm-2s-1. Overall biomass productivity of all three strains were higher under high light (HL, 300μmolphotonsm-2s-1) with LARB-202-3 achieving the highest volumetric productivity (0.9gL-1d-1) and parent wild type the lowest (0.72gL-1d-1) when cultured for 6days with medium nitrogen level. Biomass productivity of all three strains were substantially low in response to low light (LL, 140μmolphotonsm-2s-1) growth conditions. However, LARB-202-3 showed the highest biomass productivity (0.74gL-1d-1) under LL conditions too. LARB-202-3 possessed high photosynthetic productivity as measured by chlorophyll a (Chl a) content under HL conditions throughout the growth period. The content of Chl a declined gradually in all three tested strains over time. Volumetric productivity of biomass was closely associated with the cellular content of Chl a. Total lipid productivity of LARB-202-2 and LARB-202-3 grown in low nitrogen media for 12days were 273 and 297mgL-1d-1, respectively, while that of wild type parent was 244mgL-1d-1. Major medium chain fatty acids (e.g. C14:0 and C16:0) make up nearly 63% of total fatty acids in all three strains. No significant variation in major fatty acid composition was found among the tested mutants and the wild type parent. The mutants are discussed in terms of their comparative advantage over their wild type parent with respect to their potential utilization by the algal biotechnology industry for the production of biofuels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-377
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Biofuel
  • Ethylmethanesulfonate
  • Fatty acids
  • Microalgae
  • Mutant
  • Total lipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Energy
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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