Filamentous fungi assisted bio-flocculation: A novel alternative technique for harvesting heterotrophic and autotrophic microalgal cells

Wenguang Zhou, Min Min, Bing Hu, Xiaochen Ma, Yuhuan Liu, Qin Wang, Jian Shi, Paul Chen, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


The energy intensive harvesting of tiny microalgae cells (1-70 μm) from culture broth accounts for at least 20-30% of total costs of algal biomass production. The aim of this study was to develop an alternative fungus pelletization assisted bioflocculation method for harvesting microalgae using pellet-forming fungal strain (Aspergillus oryzae) isolated from municipal wastewater sludge. Facultative heterotrophic microalga Chlorella vulgaris UMN235 was used as a model species. Under heterotrophic growth condition, the key factors including spore inoculums, organic carbon concentration in medium as well as pH variation had significantly positive effects on fungus-algae pellet formation. The process parameters of 1.2 × 104 spores/mL, 20 g/L glucose, and pH ranged from 4.0 to 5.0 were found optimal for efficient fungus-algae pellet formation. For autotrophic growth, when pH of culture broth was adjusted to 4.0-5.0 with organic carbon addition (10 g/L glucose), almost 100% harvesting efficiency of microalgae was obtained. Moreover, it was observed that diameter and the concentration of fungus-algae pellets were affected by the shaker rotation. The novel harvesting technology developed in this study might reduce the microalgae harvesting cost and will have potential to be applied to all types of microalgae species as alternative to other traditional harvesting methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-165
Number of pages8
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work reported here was supported in part by grants from Minnesota Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), China 863 Projects (2012AA021704), NSF of China (Grant 21177067 ), the Key Program of Natural Science of the Jiangsu Province of China (Grant BK2010034 ) and China International Cooperation Projects (2010DFB63750).

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Aspergillus oryzae
  • Autotrophic and heterotrophic microalgal cells
  • Cell pelletization
  • Harvesting


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