Tran, NAT, Seymour, JR, Siboni, N, Evenhuis, CR & Tamburic, B 2017, 'Photosynthetic carbon uptake induces autoflocculation of the marine microalga Nannochloropsis oculata', Algal Research, vol. 26, pp. 302-311.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Microalgal biomass has been used to produce biofuels, aquaculture feed, high-value chemicals such as pigments and antioxidants, and even human food. This study addresses one of the key bottlenecks to the commercialisation of microalgal bioproducts: the high energy and environmental cost of harvesting microalgal cells out of suspension. An innovative and sustainable autoflocculation procedure was developed to pre-concentrate microalgal biomass for easier har vesting. Microalgal cell agglomeration by autoflocculation at high pH was induced for the first time, without the addition of a chemical flocculant, in the commercially-relevant microalga Nannochloropsis oculata. Photosynthetic inorganic carbon uptake, in the absence of carbon dioxide supply by mass transfer, was used to raise the culture pH. Autoflocculation started at pH 9.5 and reached a maximum flocculation efficiency of 90% at pH 10.4. Microalgal surface charge-neutralisation by calcium cations, and sweep flocculation by calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate precipitates were identified as the dominant flocculation mechanisms. This was also the first study to measure changes in bacterial community composition under autoflocculation. There was a clear shift from free-living bacteria in suspension to attached bacteria during autoflocculation, with Flavobacteriales becoming the dominant order of bacteria. This highlights the influential role of attached bacteria and bacteria-produced extracellular polymeric substances in microalgal flocculation. This study shows that regulating carbon dioxide supply is a promising green alternative to traditional microalgal flocculation processes as it alleviates the requirement for costly and harmful chemical flocculants and brings us closer to sustainable microalgal bioproducts.
Tran, NAT, Padula, MP, Evenhuis, CR, Commault, AS, Ralph, PJ & Tamburic, B 2016, 'Proteomic and biophysical analyses reveal a metabolic shift in nitrogen deprived Nannochloropsis oculata', Algal Research, vol. 19, pp. 1-11.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2016. The microalga Nannochloropsis oculata is a model organism for understanding intracellular lipid production, with potential benefits to the biofuel, aquaculture and nutraceutical industries. It is well known that nitrogen deprivation increases lipid accumulation in microalgae but the underlying processes are not fully understood. In this study, detailed proteomic and biophysical analyses were used to describe mechanisms that regulate carbon partitioning in nitrogen-deplete N. oculata. The alga selectively up- or down-regulated proteins to shift its metabolic flux in order to compensate for deficits in nitrate availability. Under nitrogen deprivation, proteins involved in photosynthesis, carbon fixation and chlorophyll biosynthesis were all down-regulated, and this was reflected in reduced cell growth and chlorophyll content. Protein content was reduced 4.9-fold in nitrogen-deplete conditions while fatty acid methyl esters increased by 60%. Proteomic analysis revealed that organic carbon and nitrogen from the breakdown of proteins and pigments is channeled primarily into fatty acid synthesis. As a result, the fatty acid concentration increased and the fatty acid profile became more favorable for algal biodiesel production. This advancement in microalgal proteomic analysis will help inform lipid accumulation strategies and optimum cultivation conditions for overproduction of fatty acids in N. oculata.
Tamburic, B, Szabo, M, Tran, A, Larkum, A, Suggett, DJ & Ralph, PJ 2014, 'Action spectra of oxygen production and chlorophyll a fluorescence in the green microalga Nannochloropsis oculata', Bioresource Technology, vol. 169, pp. 320-327.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The first complete action spectrum of oxygen evolution and chlorophyll a fluorescence was measured for the biofuel candidate alga Nannochloropsis oculata. A novel analytical procedure was used to generate a representative and reproducible action spectrum for microalgal cultures. The action spectrum was measured at 14 discrete wavelengths across the visible spectrum, at an equivalent photon flux density of 60 µmol photons m-2 s-1. Blue light (~414 nm) was absorbed more efficiently and directed to photosystem II more effectively than red light (~679 nm) at light intensities below the photosaturation limit. Conversion of absorbed photons into photosynthetic oxygen evolution was maximised at 625 nm; however, this maximum is unstable since neighbouring wavelengths (646 nm) resulted in the lowest photosystem II operating efficiency. Identifying the wavelength-dependence of photosynthesis has clear implications to optimising growth efficiency and hence important economic implications to the algal biofuels and bioproducts industries.