Carbon-dependent alleviation of ammonia toxicity for algae cultivation and associated mechanisms exploration

Qian Lu, Paul Chen, Min Addy, Renchuan Zhang, Xiangyuan Deng, Yiwei Ma, Yanling Cheng, Fida Hussain, Chi Chen, Yuhuan Liu, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Ammonia toxicity in wastewater is one of the factors that limit the application of algae technology in wastewater treatment. This work explored the correlation between carbon sources and ammonia assimilation and applied a glucose-assisted nitrogen starvation method to alleviate ammonia toxicity. In this study, ammonia toxicity to Chlorella sp. was observed when NH3-N concentration reached 28.03 mM in artificial wastewater. Addition of alpha-ketoglutarate in wastewater promoted ammonia assimilation, but low utilization efficiency and high cost of alpha-ketoglutarate limits its application in wastewater treatment. Comparison of three common carbon sources, glucose, citric acid, and sodium bicarbonate, indicates that in terms of ammonia assimilation, glucose is the best carbon source. Experimental results suggest that organic carbon with good ability of generating energy and hydride donor may be critical to ammonia assimilation. Nitrogen starvation treatment assisted by glucose increased ammonia removal efficiencies and algal viabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Algae
  • Ammonia toxicity
  • Carbon source
  • Metabolism
  • Wastewater


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