Medium pH and nitrate concentration effects on accumulation of triacylglycerol in two members of the chlorophyta

Robert Gardner, Patrizia Peters, Brent Peyton, Keith E. Cooksey

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99 Scopus citations


Algal-derived biodiesel is of particular interest because of several factors including: the potential for a near-carbon-neutral life cycle, the prospective ability for algae to capture carbon dioxide generated from coal, and algae's high per acre yield potential. Our group and others have shown that in nitrogen limitation, and for a single species of Chlorella, a rise in culture medium pH yields triacylglycerol (TAG) accumulation. To solidify and expand on these triggers, the influence and interaction of pH and nitrogen concentration on lipid production was further investigated on Chlorophyceae Scenedesmus sp. and Coelastrella sp. Growth was monitored optically and TAG accumulation was monitored by Nile red fluorescence and confirmed by gas chromatography. Both organisms grew in all treatments and TAG accumulation was observed by two distinct conditions: high pH and nitrogen limitation. The Scenedesmus sp. was shown to grow and produce lipids to a larger degree in alkaliphilic conditions (pH >9) and was used to further investigate the interplay between TAG accumulation from high pH and/or nitrate depletion. Results given here indicate that TAG accumulation per cell, monitored by Nile red fluorescence, correlates with pH at the time of nitrate depletion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1005-1016
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Chlorophyta
  • Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME)
  • Nile red fluorescence
  • Nile-red-specific fluorescence
  • Triacylglycerol (TAG)

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