Characterization of the growth and lipid content of the diatom Chaetoceros muelleri

K. M. McGinnis, Thomas Dempster, M. R. Sommerfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Chaetoceros muelleri (Schutt) was cultured on a thermal gradient plate, subjected to two media types with a range of specific conductances, and evaluated for growth and neutral lipid accumulation. Growth was measured directly by daily changes in cell numbers and indirectly by changes in optical density at 750 nm. C. muelleri exhibited a growth rate of at least two doublings day-1 over broad temperature (20 to 35 °C) and conductance ranges (10 to over 60 mS cm-1) and the optimum growth rate approached 4.0 doublings day-1 at 30 °C and a conductance of 25 mS cm-1. Intracellular neutral lipid storage was evaluated with fluorometry and epifluorescent microscopy using the fluorochrome Nile Red. Gravimetric analysis revealed a total lipid content in nitrogen-depleted cultures of C. muelleri of over 400 mg L-1, five to seven times that observed in nitrogen-replete cultures. Based on its high growth rate, tolerance to a broad range of temperatures and specific conductances, and large quantity of intracellular lipid, C. muelleri may have potential for exploitation as a renewable precursor to liquid fuels or as a lipid source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • Chaetoceros
  • Growth
  • Neutral lipid
  • Nile Red
  • Nitrogen deprivation
  • Total lipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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