For efficient astaxanthin production from the culture of green microalga, Haematococcus pluvialis, a two-stage mixotrophic culture system was established with stepwise increased light irradiance. By perfusion process, high density biomass (2.47 g/L) was achieved during the vegetative stage due to no detrimental effect of inhibitory metabolites, which was 3.09 and 1.67 times higher than batch and fed-batch processes, respectively. During the induction stage, biomass and astaxanthin were subsequently produced to the very high level 12.3 g/L and 602 mg/L, under stepwise increased light irradiance (150-450 μE/m(2)/s), respectively. These results indicate that the combinatorial approach of perfusion culture during the vegetative stage and stepwise light irradiation during the induction stage is a promising strategy for the simultaneous production of high concentration of biomass and astaxanthin in microalgae including H. pluvialis.
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