A high phosphorus concentration is widely accepted as favorable for enhancing both microalgae growth and lipid accumulation; however, excessively high P could be counter-productive. In this study, we investigated the effects of increasing P levels (5.4, 25, 45, 150, and 250 mg-P L−1) on the heterotrophic cultivation of Chlorella regularis. Microalgae growth was inhibited and cells were severely damaged in response to highly excessive P levels (≥150 mg-P L−1). In particular, 250 mg-P L−1 resulted in a ∼40% decrease in cell density and a ∼70% loss of cell viability. Microalgae damage induced by excessive phosphorus included enlarged cell size, deformation of cell walls, and disorganization of organelles. These negative effects were associated with the over-accumulation of polyphosphates within cells, which may further cause binding of P to intracellular components. Although P is an essential nutrient, excessive P lowers cell growth and viability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-270
Number of pages5
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Cell viability
  • Microalgae
  • Organelle damage
  • Phosphorus
  • Toxic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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