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Keywords:

  • carotenoids;
  • lipids;
  • biodiesel;
  • 18S rRNA;
  • Picochlorum;
  • microalgae

Abstract

Selection of new autochthon strains is necessary, and for the moment the best strategy, to find microalgae well adapted to the local climatological conditions able to simultaneously produce several compounds of biotechnological interest and grow at high rates. We describe the isolation and characterization of a new microalgal strain isolated from the marshlands of the Odiel River in the Southwest of Spain. The new microalga belongs to the genus Picochlorum, as deduced from the analysis of its 18S rRNA encoding gene, is able to grow at a high growth rate and thrive with adverse conditions. It has an appreciable constitutive level of lutein (3.5 mg g−1 DW) and zeaxanthin (0.4 mg g−1 DW) which is increased to 1.8 mg g−1 DW at high light intensities. This strain is also characterized by a very low level of linolenic acid (3.8% of total fatty acids) and no polyunsaturated fatty acids with four or more double bonds. Although the total lipid content is not particularly high, 23% of the dry weight, its fatty acid profile makes of Picochlorum sp HM1 a promising candidate for biodiesel production, and the high content in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin indicates that the microalga could also be a good source for natural eye vitamin supplements, which could be obtained as co-products. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011