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Open Access The Search for a Lipid Trigger: The Effect of Salt Stress on the Lipid Profile of the Model Microalgal Species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii for Biofuels Production

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Background: Algal cells produce neutral lipid when stressed and this can be used to generate biodiesel.

Objective: Salt stressed cells of the model microalgal species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii were tested for their suitability to produce lipid for biodiesel.

Methods: The starchless mutant of C. reinhardtii (CC-4325) was subjected to salt stress (0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 M NaCl) and transesterification and GC analysis were used to determine fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) content and profile.

Results: Fatty acid profile was found to vary under salt stress conditions, with a clear distinction between 0.1 M NaCl, which the algae could tolerate, and the higher levels of NaCl (0.2 and 0.3 M), which caused cell death. Lipid content was increased under salt conditions, either through long-term exposure to 0.1 M NaCl, or short-term exposure to 0.2 and 0.3 M NaCl. Palmitic acid (C16:0) and linolenic acid (C18:3n3) were found to increase significantly at the higher salinities.

Conclusion: Salt increase can act as a lipid trigger for C. reinhardtii.
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Keywords: FAME; Microalgae; biodiesel; biofuel; lipid; salt; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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  • Current Biotechnology is an international peer-reviewed journal, which publishes expert research, reviews and thematic issues in all core areas of biotechnology including basic and applied research. Topics covered include, molecular engineering of nucleic acids and proteins; genomics and bioinformatics, molecular therapy; imaging technology and large scale biology; medical biotechnology, regenerative medicine, industrial biotechnology, biochemical engineering/bioprocess engineering, nano-biotechnology, bio-nanotechnology, analytical biotechnology; food and agricultural biotechnology; environmental biotechnology.
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