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Mar. Drugs 2011, 9(1), 29-42; doi:10.3390/md9010029

Enhanced Productivity of a Lutein-Enriched Novel Acidophile Microalga Grown on Urea

CIDERTA, University of Huelva, Park Huelva Empresarial, 21007, Huelva, Spain
International Centre for Environmental Research (CIECEM), University of Huelva, Parque Dunar s/n, Matalascañas, Almonte, 21760, Huelva, Spain
Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Seville, 41012, Seville, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 November 2010 / Revised: 18 December 2010 / Accepted: 23 December 2010 / Published: 24 December 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Carotenoids (Special Issue))
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Coccomyxa acidophila is an extremophile eukaryotic microalga isolated from the Tinto River mining area in Huelva, Spain. Coccomyxa acidophila accumulates relevant amounts of b-carotene and lutein, well-known carotenoids with many biotechnological applications, especially in food and health-related industries. The acidic culture medium (pH < 2.5) that prevents outdoor cultivation from non-desired microorganism growth is one of the main advantages of acidophile microalgae production. Conversely, acidophile microalgae growth rates are usually very low compared to common microalgae growth rates. In this work, we show that mixotrophic cultivation on urea efficiently enhances growth and productivity of an acidophile microalga up to typical values for common microalgae, therefore approaching acidophile algal production towards suitable conditions for feasible outdoor production. Algal productivity and potential for carotenoid accumulation were analyzed as a function of the nitrogen source supplied. Several nitrogen conditions were assayed: nitrogen starvation, nitrate and/or nitrite, ammonia and urea. Among them, urea clearly led to the best cell growth (~4 ´ 108 cells/mL at the end of log phase). Ammonium led to the maximum chlorophyll and carotenoid content per volume unit (220 mg·mL-1 and 35 mg·mL-1, respectively). Interestingly, no significant differences in growth rates were found in cultures grown on urea as C and N source, with respect to those cultures grown on nitrate and CO2 as nitrogen and carbon sources (control cultures). Lutein accumulated up to 3.55 mg·g-1 in the mixotrophic cultures grown on urea. In addition, algal growth in a shaded culture revealed the first evidence for an active xanthophylls cycle operative in acidophile microalgae.
Keywords: urea; Coccomyxa; extremophile microorganisms; lutein; microalgae urea; Coccomyxa; extremophile microorganisms; lutein; microalgae

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Casal, C.; Cuaresma, M.; Vega, J.M.; Vilchez, C. Enhanced Productivity of a Lutein-Enriched Novel Acidophile Microalga Grown on Urea. Mar. Drugs 2011, 9, 29-42.

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