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Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0716-9760


CIFUENTES, ANA S et al. Optimization of biomass, total carotenoids and astaxanthin production in Haematococcus pluvialis Flotow strain Steptoe (Nevada, USA) under laboratory conditions. Biol. Res. [online]. 2003, vol.36, n.3-4, pp.343-357. ISSN 0716-9760.

The microalga Haematococcus pluvialis Flotow is one of the natural sources of astaxanthin, a pigment widely used in salmon feed. This study was made to discover optimal conditions for biomass and astaxanthin production in H. pluvialis from Steptoe, Nevada (USA), cultured in batch mode. Growth was carried out under autotrophic (with NaNO3, NH4Cl and urea) and mixotrophic conditions (with 4, 8, 12 mM sodium acetate) under two photon flux densities (PFD) (35 and 85 µmol m-2 s-1). The carotenogenesis was induced by 1) addition of NaCl (0.2 and 0.8 %), 2) N-deprivation and 3) high PFD (150 µmol m-2 s-1). Total carotenoids were estimated by spectrophotometry and total astaxanthin by HPLC. Ammonium chloride was the best N-source for growth (k=0.7 div day-1, 228-258 mg l-1and 2.0 x 105 - 2.5 x 105 cells ml-1 at both PFD, respectively). With increasing acetate concentration, a slight increment in growth occurred only at 85 µmol m-2 s-1. Light was the best inductive carotenogenic factor, and the highest carotenoid production (4.9 mg l-1, 25.0 pg cell-1) was obtained in cultures pre-grown in nitrate at low light. The NaCl caused an increase in carotenoid content per cell at increasing salt concentrations, but resulted in a high cell mortality and did not produce any increment in carotenoid content per volume compared to cultures grown at 150 µmol m-2 s-1. The highest carotenoid content per cell (22 pg) and astaxanthin content per dry weight (10.3 mg g-1) (1% w/w) were obtained at 85 µmol m-2 s-1 with 0.8% NaCl.

Keywords : astaxanthin; carotenogenesis; growth; Haematococcus pluvialis.

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