Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a significant role in the modulation and prevention of various diseases, and hence are attracting increasing attention from the biotech industry. Thraustochytrids are marine heterokonts that exhibit robust growth rates, high PUFA content, and more specifically, a large percentage of omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Recently, ionic liquids (ILs) have been shown to improve the efficiency of organic solvent extraction of oils from wet oleaginous yeast and microalgae under mild conditions. Two ILs, the imidazolium 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium ethylsulfate [C2
] IL and the phosphonium (tetrabutylphosphonium propanoate [P4444
][Prop]) IL were assessed for their ability to facilitate extraction of PUFA-containing lipids from a Thraustochytrium
sp. (T18) through efficient cell wall disruption. The oil extracted after IL pretreatment was further characterized with respect to fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) composition, while the effects of process parameters, such as the ratio of ionic liquid to co-solvent, the mass ratio of microalgae to the mixture of ionic liquid, and type of co-solvent were also investigated for both ILs. The results indicate that these ILs can disrupt the cells of Thraustochytrium
sp. when mixed with a co-solvent (methanol), and facilitated the recovery of oils over a large degree of dewatered Thraustochytrium
biomass (0–77.2 wt% water) in a short period of time (60 min) at ambient temperature, hence demonstrating a water compatible, low-energy, lipid recovery method. The lipid recovery was not affected by repeated usage of recycled ILs (tested up to five times).
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited