Factors affecting the astaxanthin production by a unicellular green alga, Haematococcus pluvialis UTEX 16, were evaluated with sequential fractional factorial design. To simulate an actual production mode, a two-stage process was adapted for astaxanthin production: the alga was first cultivated under vegetative growth conditions, and then astaxanthin production was induced by applying various induction methods. A high dose of irradiation was most effective for the production of astaxanthin both in weight (mg/g) and in cellular (pg/cell) contents. A combination of nitrogen deficiency and acetate addition also significantly increased the astaxanthin content of cells on a dry weight basis. Meanwhile, the acetate addition alone increased only the cellular content of astaxanthin. Although the addition of ferrous ion alone had a negative effect on the weight content of astaxanthin, simultaneous addition of ferrous ion and acetate was effective for increasing the cellular content of astaxanthin.
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