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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

[ Vol. 5 , Issue. 4 ]


Emily Hounslow, Rahul Vijay Kapoore, Seetharaman Vaidyanathan, D. James Gilmour and Phillip C. Wright   Pages 305 - 313 ( 9 )


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.


Microalgae, biofuel, FAME, salt, lipid, stress, biodiesel.


Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.

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