Milking microalga Dunaliella salina for β-carotene production in two-phase bioreactors

Authors

  • M. A. Hejazi,

    1. Food and Bioprocess Engineering Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands; telephone: +31-317-48-37-70; fax: +31-317-48-22-37
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  • E. Holwerda,

    1. Food and Bioprocess Engineering Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands; telephone: +31-317-48-37-70; fax: +31-317-48-22-37
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  • R. H. Wijffels

    1. Food and Bioprocess Engineering Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands; telephone: +31-317-48-37-70; fax: +31-317-48-22-37
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Abstract

A new method was developed for production of β-carotene from Dunaliella salina. Cells were grown in low light intensity and then transferred to a production bioreactor illuminated at a higher light intensity. It was a two-phase bioreactor consisting of an aqueous and a biocompatible organic phase. Mixing of the cells and extraction were performed by recirculation of the organic phase. Two experiments were performed. In the first experiment, bioreactors were operated at two different solvent recirculation rates of 150 and 200 mL min−1. The β-carotene extraction rate increased significantly at the higher recirculation rate, without exerting any influence on cell number and viability. A second experiment was carried out at a recirculation rate (200 mL min−1) appropriate for the study of long-term production of β-carotene. The results show that D. salina at high light intensity remained viable for a long period (>47 days) in the presence of a biocompatible organic phase; however, cell growth was very slow. β-Carotene could be continuously extracted to the organic phase; the cells continued to produce β-carotene and the extracted molecules were continuously reproduced. As a result, β-carotene was continuously removed (“milked”) from the cells. β-Carotene extraction efficiency in this system was >55%, and productivity was 2.45 mg m−2 day−1, much higher than that of commercial plants. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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