Microwave-assisted Nile red method for in vivo quantification of neutral lipids in microalgae

Wei Chen, Milton Sommerfeld, Qiang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


In vivo determination of neutral lipids with Nile red fluorescence has been used as a rapid screening method for certain types of microalgae, but has been unsuccessful in others, particularly those with thick, rigid cell walls that prevent penetration of the fluorescence dye into the cell. To solve the problem, a microwave-assisted Nile red staining method for microalgal lipid determination was developed. In a two-step staining protocol, 50 and 60. s were selected as the optimal microwave times for the pretreatment and staining process, respectively. Moreover, several calibration methods for quantitative analysis of neutral lipids in microalgae were investigated and compared with conventional gravimetric methods. Factors that affected the in vivo quantification of cellular neutral lipids were also investigated. Application of the new method for detection and quantification of neutral lipids in a number of green microalgae was demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Biofuel
  • Green algae
  • Microwave-assisted staining
  • Neutral lipids
  • Nile red

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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