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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 56:297-308 (2009)  -  DOI:

Photosynthetic performance of outdoor Nannochloropsis mass cultures under a wide range of environmental conditions

Assaf Sukenik1,*, John Beardall2, Jacco C. Kromkamp3, Jiři Kopecký4,5, Jiři Masojídek4,5, Stef van Bergeijk6, Shai Gabai7, Efrat Shaham7, Amir Yamshon7

1Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Yigal Allon Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, PO Box 447, 14950 Migdal, Israel
2School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia
3Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology (NIOO-CEME), PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
4Institute of Physical Biology, University of South Bohemia, Zámek 136, 37333 Nové Hrady, Czech Republic
5Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences, Opatovický mlýn, Tŕeboň 379 81, Czech Republic
6IFAPA Centro El Toruño, Ctra. N IV Madrid-Cádiz, km 654a, Camino de Tiro Pichón s/n, 11500 El Puerto de Santa María, Spain
7The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel

ABSTRACT: The unicellular alga Nannochloropsis sp. (Eustigmatophyta) is a rich source of lipids, polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as eicosapentaenoic acid) and carotenoids (violaxanthin), which makes it valuable for human consumption, aquaculture and biofuel production. Mass production of Nannochloropsis sp. can be easily achieved in high-rate algal ponds (HRAP), in flat panel photobioreactors (FPP) or in tubular photobioreactors. While easy to operate, these systems are prone to unfavorable growth conditions, which affect productivity. In the present study, we cultivated Nannochloropsis sp. in 2 outdoor production systems and monitored photosynthetic activity. Unfavorable conditions (stressors), such as high temperature and high pH in combination with high irradiance, were induced in FPP, causing a substantial reduction in the photosynthetic rate. The measurements of Nannochloropsis sp. photosynthetic activity using several chlorophyll fluorescence techniques as well as oxygen production measurements showed that this species is able to withstand high irradiance levels. Although some photodamage due to high irradiance was found, the cultures rapidly recovered. Nannochloropsis sp. coped well with high pH conditions under physiological temperatures. However, a temperature rise above 32°C was detrimental, with repair processes being unable to keep up with the rate of damage. The cultures in the FPP were more prone to damage by extreme temperatures than those in the HRAP due to the high surface:volume ratio, which complicated temperature regulation within the physiological range.

KEY WORDS: Chlorophyll fluorescence · Photobioreactor · Nannochloropsis · Mass culture · Photosynthetic rate · Unfavorable conditions · Quantum yield

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Cite this article as: Sukenik A, Beardall J, Kromkamp JC, Kopecký J and others (2009) Photosynthetic performance of outdoor Nannochloropsis mass cultures under a wide range of environmental conditions. Aquat Microb Ecol 56:297-308.

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