Synergistic effect of multiple stress conditions for improving microalgal lipid production

Ho Seok Kwak, Jaoon Young Hwan Kim, Han Min Woo, Eon Seon Jin, Byoung Koun Min, Sang Jun Sim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


This increasing consumption of fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gases causes climate change. Thus, the development of alternative energy sources such as biofuel is necessary. Microalgae have been spotlighted as renewable energy resources because the potential for producing biofuels from CO2. However, the unit cost for the production of algae-based biofuel must be reduced for commercialization compared to the petroleum. The optimization of culture conditions of microalgal strains is crucial to increase lipid production for economically viable biofuels. We rapidly analyzed the combined effect of various stress conditions (nitrogen starvation, temperature, pH, and salt concentration) on the lipid production in various strains using a multiplex microfluidic system, enabling multiple operations from cell culture to lipid extraction of different strains. We found the lipid productivity was enhanced by 25 to 54% under combinations of two stress condition compared to the single stress condition. However, the combination of more than three stress conditions reduced the lipid productivities of all microalgal strains because of more stressful environment to the cells compared to the combinations of two stress conditions. We further validated the synergistic effect of combined stress conditions in flask culture with the increases in lipid productivities by up to 106% compared to the single stress condition. We also observed that fatty acids composition, which influences the quality of algal biofuels, was changed according to the combination of stress conditions. In particular, C. protothecoides can be good candidate for production of high quality of biodiesel, because it has high CN, IV and low CFPP which is suitable for high quality of biodiesel. These results indicate that combination of multiple stress conditions can be efficient strategy for the optimization of microalgal cultivation to produce algal biofuels with high quality and economic feasibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-224
Number of pages10
JournalAlgal Research
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 1


  • Lipid production
  • Microalgae
  • Microfluidics
  • Multiple stresses
  • Synergistic effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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