RESULTS: Three days of incubation in darkness increased saturated fatty acid (SFA) content from 34.0 to 41.4% but decreased monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) content from 36.7 to 29.8%. Palmitic acid (C16:0) content was increased from 23.2 to 28.9%, whereas oleic acid (C18:1) content was reduced from 35.4 to 28.8%. Total oil content was slightly decreased from 20.4 to 18.7% after 3 days of darkness, without a significant reduction in biomass compared to 3 days of incubation in light. Biomass and oil content was highest in cultures incubated for 6 days in light, however the stimulatory and inhibitory effects of darkness (or light) on SFA and MUFA content was no longer present at 6 days of incubation.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study suggests that fatty acid composition in C. vulgaris could be modulated to favor either C16:0 or C18:1 by a brief period of either darkness or light incubation, prior to harvesting.