Microalgae lipids and oils are potential candidates for renewable biodiesel. Many microalgae species accumulate a substantial amount of lipids and oils under environmental stresses. However, low growth rate under these adverse conditions account for the decrease in overall biomass productivity which directly influence the oil yield. This study was undertaken to investigate the effect of exogenously added auxin (indole-3-acetic acid; IAA) on the oil content, fatty acid compositions, and the expression of fatty acid biosynthetic genes in Chlorella vulgaris (UMT-M1). Auxin has been shown to regulate growth and metabolite production of several microalgae. Results showed that oil accumulation was highest on days after treatment (DAT)-2 with enriched levels of palmitic (C16:0) and stearic (C18:0) acids, while the linoleic (C18:2) and α-linolenic (C18:3n3) acids levels were markedly reduced by IAA. The elevated levels of saturated fatty acids (C16:0 and C18:0) were consistent with high expression of the β-ketoacyl ACP synthase I (KAS I) gene, while low expression of omega-6 fatty acid desaturase (ω-6 FAD) gene was consistent with low production of C18:2. However, the increment of stearoyl-ACP desaturase (SAD) gene expression upon IAA induction did not coincide with oleic acid (C18:1) production. The expression of omega-3 fatty acid desaturase (ω-3 FAD) gene showed a positive correlation with the synthesis of PUFA and C18:3n3.
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