Evaluation of co-culturing a diatom and a coccolithophore using different silicate concentrations

Gamze Dogdu Okcu, Everett Eustance, Yen Jung Sean Lai, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Globally, the demand for sustainable energy production and high-value biological compounds have become intertwined in an attempt to improve the feasibility of sustainable algal cultivation. Marine microalgae, especially diatoms and coccolithophores, represent viable cultures that can produce biofuels and high-value compounds. Growing them in co-culture offers the potential to produce lipids and pigments, while also generating CaCO3 for C sequestration. The main objective of this work was to investigate competition or co-existence of the diatom Chaetoceros gracilis and the coccolithophore Pleurochrysis Carterae. The focus was on the effects of silicate and co-culturing on the growth rate, productivity, pigment production, and ash production for C. gracilis and P. carterae in laboratory conditions. The results showed that, in monoculture, 2-mM Si enhanced the specific growth rate of C. gracilis, but did not affect P. carterae. Regardless of silicate concentration, C. gracilis was more productive than P. carterae. In co-culture, P. carterae had a slower growth rate, indicating an inhibitory effect of C. gracilis on P. carterae. Neither silicate concentration nor co-culturing had an impact on the contents of pigments fucoxanthin, chlorophyll-a, and chlorophyll-c, which means that pigment productivity was proportional to biomass productivity. Finally, the ash content increased in all cultures with the lower silicate concentration (0.2 mM) in the medium. With one exception, the ash content was dominated by SiO2 regardless of silicate amount, and CaCO3 was a major part of the ash only when P. carterae was grown separately with the higher silicate level. These results highlight that co-culturing did not provide an advantage for improving biomass, pigments, or CaCO3 productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145217
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - May 15 2021


  • Calcium carbonate
  • Chaetoceros gracilis
  • Co-culture
  • Pleurochrysis carterae
  • Silicate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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