Green microalga Ankistrodesmus convolutus Corda is a fast growing alga which produces appreciable amount of carotenoids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the construction of cDNA library and preliminary analysis of ESTs for this species. The titers of the primary and amplified cDNA libraries were 1.1×10(6) and 6.0×10(9) pfu/ml respectively. The percentage of recombinants was 97% in the primary library and a total of 337 out of 415 original cDNA clones selected randomly contained inserts ranging from 600 to 1,500 bps. A total of 201 individual ESTs with sizes ranging from 390 to 1,038 bps were then analyzed and the BLASTX score revealed that 35.8% of the sequences were classified as strong match, 38.3% as nominal and 25.9% as weak match. Among the ESTs with known putative function, 21.4% of them were found to be related to gene expression, 14.4% ESTs to photosynthesis, 10.9% ESTs to metabolism, 5.5% ESTs to miscellaneous, 2.0% to stress response, and the remaining 45.8% were classified as novel genes. Analysis of ESTs described in this paper can be an effective approach to isolate and characterize new genes from A. convolutus and thus the sequences obtained represented a significant contribution to the extensive database of sequences from green microalgae.
Microalgae biomass contains various useful bio-active components. Microalgae derived biodiesel has been researched for almost two decades. However, sole biodiesel extraction from microalgae is time-consuming and is not economically feasible due to competitive fossil fuel prices. Microalgae also contains proteins and carbohydrates in abundance. Microalgae are likewise utilized to extract high-value products such as pigments, anti-oxidants and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids which are useful in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industry. These compounds can be extracted simultaneously or sequentially after biodiesel extraction to reduce the total expenditure involved in the process. This approach of bio-refinery is necessary to promote microalgae in the commercial market. Researchers have been keen on utilizing the bio-refinery approach to exploit the valuable components encased by microalgae. Apart from all the beneficial components housed by microalgae, they also help in reducing the anthropogenic CO2 levels of the atmosphere while utilizing saline or wastewater. These benefits enable microalgae as a potential source for bio-refinery approach. Although life-cycle analysis and economic assessment do not favor the use of microalgae biomass feedstock to produce biofuel and co-products with the existing techniques, this review still aims to highlight the beneficial components of microalgae and their importance to humans. In addition, this article also focuses on current and future aspects of improving the feasibility of bio-processing for microalgae bio-refinery.
The world at large is facing a new threat with the emergence of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Though imperceptible by the naked eye, the medical, sociological and economical implications caused by this newly discovered virus have been and will continue to be a great impediment to our lives. This health threat has already caused over two million deaths worldwide in the span of a year and its mortality rate is projected to continue rising. In this review, the potential of algae in combating the spread of COVID-19 is investigated since algal compounds have been tested against viruses and algal anti-inflammatory compounds have the potential to treat the severe symptoms of COVID-19. The possible utilization of algae in producing value-added products such as serological test kits, vaccines, and supplements that would either mitigate or hinder the continued health risks caused by the virus is prominent. Many of the characteristics in algae can provide insights on the development of microalgae to fight against SARS-CoV-2 or other viruses and contribute in manufacturing various green and high-value products.
High cell density cultivation of microalgae via heterotrophic growth mechanism could effectively address the issues of low productivity and operational constraints presently affecting the solar driven biodiesel production. This paper reviews the progress made so far in the development of commercial-scale heterotrophic microalgae cultivation processes. The review also discusses on patentable concepts and innovations disclosed in the past four years with regards to new approaches to microalgal cultivation technique, improvisation on the process flow designs to economically produced biodiesel and genetic manipulation to confer desirable traits leading to much valued high lipid-bearing microalgae strains.
Exploitation of renewable sources of energy such as algal biodiesel could turn energy supplies problem around. Studies on a locally isolated strain of Dunaliella sp. showed that the mean lipid content in cultures enriched by 200 mg L(-1) myoinositol was raised by around 33% (1.5 times higher than the control). Similarly, higher lipid productivity values were achieved in cultures treated by 100 and 200 mg L(-1) myoinositol. Fluorometry analyses (microplate fluorescence and flow cytometry) revealed increased oil accumulation in the Nile red-stained algal samples. Moreover, it was predicted that biodiesel produced from myoinositol-treated cells possessed improved oxidative stability, cetane number, and cloud point values. From the genomic point of view, real-time analyses revealed that myoinositol negatively influenced transcript abundance of AccD gene (one of the key genes involved in lipid production pathway) due to feedback inhibition and that its positive effect must have been exerted through other genes. The findings of the current research are not to interprete that myoinositol supplementation could answer all the challenges faced in microalgal biodiesel production but instead to show that "there is a there there" for biochemical modulation strategies, which we achieved, increased algal oil quantity and enhanced resultant biodiesel quality.
Any forms of valorization of microorganisms would require accurate identity recognition to ensure repeatability, reproducibility and quality assurance. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of different primers for identifying cultured eukaryotic microalgae using a simple 18S rDNA approach. A total of 34 isolated microalgae and one culture collection were utilized in the search for an effective molecular identification method for microalgae. Ammonium formate was applied to marine microalgae prior to DNA extraction. The microalgal DNA was extracted using a commercial kit and subjected directly to PCR amplification using four different published 18S rDNA primers. The DNA sequences were analysed using Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) and phylogenetic trees to determine the microalgae identity. The identity was further validated with conventional morphological taxonomic identification, and the relationship of microalgal morphology and genetic materials was also determined. The microalgal DNA was successfully amplified, including marine species without prior cleaning. In addition, the ss5 + ss3 primer pair was found to be an ideal primer set among the tested primers for identifying microalgae. Overall, molecular identification showed relative matching with morphological identification (82.86%). This study is important because it serves as a platform to develop a standardized eukaryotic microalgae identification method. In addition, this method could help to ease the eukaryotic microalgae identification process and enrich the current reference databases such as GenBank.
Microbial oils are considered as alternative to vegetable oils or animal fats as biodiesel feedstock. Microalgae and oleaginous yeast are the main candidates of microbial oil producers' community. However, biodiesel synthesis from these sources is associated with high cost and process complexity. The traditional transesterification method includes several steps such as biomass drying, cell disruption, oil extraction and solvent recovery. Therefore, direct transesterification or in situ transesterification, which combines all the steps in a single reactor, has been suggested to make the process cost effective. Nevertheless, the process is not applicable for large-scale biodiesel production having some difficulties such as high water content of biomass that makes the reaction rate slower and hurdles of cell disruption makes the efficiency of oil extraction lower. Additionally, it requires high heating energy in the solvent extraction and recovery stage. To resolve these difficulties, this review suggests the application of antimicrobial peptides and high electric fields to foster the microbial cell wall disruption.
The availability of highly active homologous promoters is critical in the development of a transformation system and improvement of the transformation efficiency. To facilitate transformation of green microalga Ankistrodesmus convolutus which is considered as a potential candidate for many biotechnological applications, a highly-expressed native promoter sequence of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase small subunit (AcRbcS) has been used to drive the expression of β-glucuronidase (gusA) gene in this microalga. Besides the determination of the transcription start site by 5'-RACE, sequence analysis revealed that AcRbcS promoter contained consensus TATA-box and several putative cis-acting elements, including some representative light-regulatory elements (e.g., G-box, Sp1 motif and SORLIP2), which confer light responsiveness in plants, and several potential conserved motifs (e.g., CAGAC-motif, YCCYTGG-motifs and CACCACA-motif), which may be involved in light responsiveness of RbcS gene in green microalgae. Using AcRbcS promoter::gusA translational fusion, it was demonstrated that this promoter could function as a light-regulated promoter in transgenic A. convolutus, which suggested that the isolated AcRbcS promoter was a full and active promoter sequence that contained all cis-elements required for developmental and light-mediated control of gene expression, and this promoter can be used to drive the expression of heterologous genes in A. convolutus. This achievement therefore advances the development of A. convolutus as an alternative expression system for the production of recombinant proteins. This is the first report on development of gene manipulation system for unicellular green alga A. convolutus.
In the present study, a novel oleaginous Thraustochytrid containing a high content of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was isolated from a mangrove ecosystem in Malaysia. The strain identified as an Aurantiochytrium sp. by 18S rRNA sequencing and named KRS101 used various carbon and nitrogen sources, indicating metabolic versatility. Optimal culture conditions, thus maximizing cell growth, and high levels of lipid and DHA production, were attained using glucose (60 g l⁻¹) as carbon source, corn steep solid (10 g l⁻¹) as nitrogen source, and sea salt (15 g l⁻¹). The highest biomass, lipid, and DHA production of KRS101 upon fed-batch fermentation were 50.2 g l⁻¹ (16.7 g l⁻¹ day⁻¹), 21.8 g l⁻¹ (44% DCW), and 8.8 g l⁻¹ (40% TFA), respectively. Similar values were obtained when a cheap substrate like molasses, rather than glucose, was used as the carbon source (DCW of 52.44 g l⁻¹, lipid and DHA levels of 20.2 and 8.83 g l⁻¹, respectively), indicating that production of microbial oils containing high levels of DHA can be produced economically when the novel strain is used.
Microalgae lipids and oils are potential candidates for renewable biofuels and nutritional inventions. Recent studies from our lab have shown that two plant hormones, auxin and jasmonic acid, influence microalgae growth and fatty acid accumulation. Therefore, in this study, a high oil-producing strain Chlorella vulgaris UMT-M1 was selected for hormonal study using gibberellin (GA). Exogenous GA3 was applied to early stationary culture of C. vulgaris UMT-M1. Results showed that GA3 gradually increases the cell density of C. vulgaris to up to 42% on days after treatment (DAT)-8 and also capable of delaying the algal senescence. However, the increment in cell density did not enhance the total oil production albeit transient modification of fatty acid compositions was observed for saturated (SFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids. This illustrates that GA3 only promotes cell division and growth but not the oil accumulation. In addition, application of GA3 in culture medium was shown to promote transient increment of palmitic (C16:0) and stearic (C18:0) acids from DAT-4 to DAT-6 and these changes are correlated with the expression of β-ketoacyl ACP synthase I (KAS I) gene.
Global warming has become a serious issue nowadays as the trend of CO2 emission is increasing by years. In Malaysia, the electricity and energy sector contributed a significant amount to the nation's CO2 emission due to fossil fuel use. Many research works have been carried out to mitigate this issue, including carbon capture and utilization (CCUS) technology and biological carbon fixation by microalgae. This study makes a preliminary effort to screen native microalgae species in the Malaysian coal-fired power plant's surrounding towards carbon fixation ability. Three dominant species, including Nannochloropsis sp., Tetraselmis sp., and Isochrysis sp. were identified and tested in the laboratory under ambient and pure CO2 condition to assess their growth and CO2 fixation ability. The results indicate Isochrysis sp. as the superior carbon fixer against other species. In continuation, the optimization study using Response Surface Methodology (RSM) was carried out to optimize the operating conditions of Isochrysis sp. using a customized lab-scale photobioreactor under simulated flue gas exposure. This species was further acclimatized and tested under actual flue gas generated by the power plant. Isochrysis sp. had shown its capability as a carbon fixer with CO2 fixation rate of 0.35 gCO2/L day under actual coal-fired flue gas exposure after cycles of acclimatization phase. This work is the first to demonstrate indigenous microalgae species' ability as a carbon fixer under Malaysian coal-fired flue gas exposure. Thus, the findings shall be useful in exploring the microalgae potential as a biological agent for carbon emission mitigation from power plants more sustainably.
In this study, the effects of limited and excess nitrate on biomass, lipid production, and fatty acid profile in Messastrum gracile SE-MC4 were determined. The expression of fatty acid desaturase genes, namely stearoyl-ACP desaturase (SAD), omega-6 fatty acid desaturase (ω-6 FAD), omega-3 fatty acid desaturase isoform 1 (ω-3 FADi1), and omega-3 fatty acid desaturase isoform 2 (ω-3 FADi2) was also assessed. It was found that nitrate limitation generally increased the total oil, α-linolenic acid (C18:3n3) and total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) contents in M. gracile. The reduction of nitrate concentration from 1.76 to 0.11 mM increased the total oil content significantly from 32.5 to 41.85% (dry weight). Palmitic (C16:0) and oleic (C18:1) acids as the predominant fatty acids in this microalgae constituted between 82 and 87% of the total oil content and were relatively consistent throughout all nitrate concentrations tested. The expression of SAD, ω-6 FAD, and ω-3 FADi2 genes increased under nitrate limitation, especially at 0.11 mM nitrate. The ω-3 FADi1 demonstrated a binary up-regulation pattern of expression under both nitrate-deficient (0.11 mM) and -excess (3.55 mM) conditions. Thus, findings from this study suggested that limited or excess nitrate could be used as part of a cultivation strategy to increase oil and PUFA content following media optimisation and more efficient culture methodology. Data obtained from the expression of desaturase genes would provide valuable insights into their roles under excess and limited nitrate conditions in M. gracile, potentially paving the way for future genetic modifications.
Reserve lipids of microalgae are promising for biodiesel production. However, economically feasible and sustainable energy production from microalgae requires optimization of cultivation conditions for both biomass yield and lipid production of microalgae. Biomass yield and lipid production in microalgae are a contradictory problem because required conditions for both targets are different. Simultaneously, the mass cultivation of microalgae for biofuel production also depends extremely on the performance of the microalgae strains used. In this study a green unicellular microalgae Chlorella sorokiniana (DS6) isolated from the holding tanks of farm wastewater treatment plant using multi-step screening and acclimation procedures was found high-lipid producing facultative heterotrophic microalgae strain capable of growing on dairy farm effluent (DFE) for biodiesel feedstock and wastewater treatment. Morphological features and the phylogenetic analysis for the 18S rRNA identified the isolated strains. A novel three stage cultivation process of facultative strain of C. sorokiniana was examined for lipid production.
An initial study on gene cloning and characterization of unicellular green microalga Ankistrodesmus convolutus was carried out to isolate and characterize the full-length cDNA of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase small subunit (RbcS) as a first step towards elucidating the structure of A. convolutus RbcS gene. The full-length of A. convolutus RbcS cDNA (AcRbcS) contained 28 bp of 5' untranslated region (UTR), 225 bp of 3' non-coding region, and an open reading frame of 165 amino acids consisting of a chloroplast transit peptide with 24 amino acids and a mature protein of 141 amino acids. The amino acid sequence has high identity to those of other green algae RbcS genes. The AcRbcS contained a few conserved domains including protein kinase C phosphorylation site, tyrosine kinase phosphorylation site and N-myristoylation sites. The AcRbcS was successfully expressed in Escherichia coli and a ~21 kDa of anticipated protein band was observed on SDS-PAGE. From the phylogenetic analysis of RbcS protein sequences, it was found that the RbcS of A. convolutus has closer genetic relationship with green microalgae species compared to those of green seaweed and green macroalgae species. Southern hybridization analysis revealed that the AcRbcS is a member of a small multigene family comprising of two to six members in A. convolutus genome. Under different illumination conditions, RT-PCR analysis showed that AcRbcS transcription was reduced in the dark, and drastically recovered in the light condition. Results presented in this paper established a good foundation for further study on the photosynthetic process of A. convolutus and other green algae species where little information is known on Rubisco small subunit.