A recently published paper in Scientific Reports has looked at a set of marine micro-algae strains which could be considered as possible candidates for large scale/low cost biotech purposes such as biodiesel, biogas and added-value nutraceutical feeds. The researchers picked out two strains as the best lipid producers, and identified other strains with higher carbohydrate production, EPA production and nitrogen assimilation as potential candidates for biotechnology applications.
Abstract (reproduced under a Creative Commons license)*
"Micro-algae synthesize high levels of lipids, carbohydrates and proteins photoautotrophically, thus attracting considerable interest for the biotechnological production of fuels, environmental remediation, functional foods and nutraceuticals. Currently, only a few micro-algae species are grown commercially at large-scale, primarily for “health-foods” and pigments. For a range of potential products (fuel to pharma), high lipid productivity strains are required to mitigate the economic costs of mass culture.
"Here we present a screen concentrating on marine micro-algal strains, which if suitable for scale-up would minimise competition with agriculture for water.
"Mass-Spectrophotometric analysis (MS) of nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) was subsequently validated by measurement of total fatty acids (TFA) by Gas-Chromatography (GC). This identified a rapid and accurate screening strategy based on elemental analysis.
"The screen identified Nannochloropsis oceanica CCAP 849/10 and a marine isolate of Chlorella vulgaris CCAP 211/21A as the best lipid producers. Analysis of C, N, protein, carbohydrate and Fatty Acid (FA) composition identified a suite of strains for further biotechnological applications e.g. Dunaliella polymorpha CCAP 19/14, significantly the most productive for carbohydrates, and Cyclotella cryptica CCAP 1070/2, with utility for EPA production and N-assimilation."
Journal reference: Stephen P. Slocombe, QianYi Zhang, Michael Ross, Avril Anderson, Naomi J. Thomas, Ángela Lapresa, Cecilia Rad-Menéndez, Christine N. Campbell, Kenneth D. Black, Michele S. Stanley & John G. Day. Unlocking nature’s treasure-chest: screening for oleaginous algae. Scientific Reports 5. Article no. 9844 (2015). Published online 23 Jul 2015. doi:10.1038/srep09844
* The Nature article has been distributed under a Creative Commons CC-BY license