• apoptosis;
  • Cocconeis;
  • cultivation;
  • gas;
  • growth;
  • light spectrum;
  • medium;
  • metabolite;
  • strain

The optimal conditions for the growth of two conspecific benthic diatoms were defined through factorial experimentation. We investigated the roles of light spectrum, nutrient availability, and culture conditions on the laboratory production of Cocconeis scutellum scutellum Ehrenb. and C. scutellum parva Grunow. Diatoms were cultivated in petri dishes, and inverted optical microscopy was used to periodically record their abundance. Growth curves were constructed from these data for each culture condition. In addition, at the end of the experiment we performed weight measurements to determine the total production for each of the considered conditions. We found that cultivation in nonsealed (NS) petri dishes (permitting gas exchange) represented the most productive technique. Cell density and biomass varied among light spectra, although this effect was inconsistent. For example, the Sylvania Gro-Lux lamp (GL) produced the lowest cell density but highest biomass, suggesting that it may promote the production of larger cells. Surprisingly, of the culture media tested, f/2 (a media commonly used for the culture of diatoms) was the least productive. Diatom density and biomass were variably dependent on the combination of experimental culture conditions and strain used. These physical and chemical factors act mainly on given features of the diatom growth curve. These results permitted us to devise adequate culture protocols, to produce a biotechnologically important substance: a proapoptotic compound that specifically destroys the androgenic gland of a shrimp and could find novel applications in human medicine.