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Concept: Botryococcus braunii


The requirements of micronutrients for biomass and hydrocarbon production in Botryococcus braunii UTEX 572 were studied using response surface methodology. The concentrations of four micronutrients (iron, manganese, molybdenum, and nickel) were manipulated to achieve the best performance of B. braunii in laboratory conditions. The responses of algal biomass and hydrocarbon to the concentration variations of the four micronutrients were estimated by a second order quadratic regression model. Genetic algorithm calculations showed that the optimal level of micronutrients for algal biomass were 0.266 µM iron, 0.707 µM manganese, 0.624 µM molybdenum and 3.38 µM nickel. The maximum hydrocarbon content could be achieved when the culture media contained 10.43 µM iron, 6.53 µM manganese, 0.012 µM molybdenum and 1.73 µM nickel. The validation through an independent test in a photobioreactor suggests that the modified media with optimised concentrations of trace elements can increase algal biomass by 34.5% and hydrocarbon by 27.4%. This study indicates that micronutrients play significant roles in regulating algal growth and hydrocarbon production, and the response surface methodology can be used to optimise the composition of culture medium in algal culture.

Concepts: Algae, Photosynthesis, Metal, Agar, Mathematical optimization, Algae fuel, Algaculture, Botryococcus braunii


To improve the mixing efficiency in an aqueous-tetradecane system and thus to increase the lipid milking efficiency, poly (ether sulfones) hollow fiber membrane was applied as dispersion medium to establish an in situ lipid extraction process from Botryococcus braunii FACHB 357. The lipid location of this microalga was characterized by fluorescence microscope and transmission electron microscopy, respectively. The results showed that B. braunii excreted lipids into the outer matrix, which allowed it possible to extract algal lipids in situ by organic solvent. Within an aqueous-organic biphasic system, the lipid extraction ratio of tetradecane increased from 38.05% to 50.15% by introducing a microporous membrane as the dispersion medium, mainly because smaller solvent droplets were produced. Under this experimental condition (the volume ratio of tetradecane: 10%, the flow rate: 10ml min-1), solvent toxicity and shearing stress had not shown significant impact on algal cells viability in 96h. Within the same time period, the lipid amount extracted by solvent was enhanced with the increase of the solvent flow rate and the initial biomass concentration. These results suggested membrane dispersion was a good choice to improve mixing effect in the algal lipid milking process or other similar cell products extracted processes.

Concepts: Algae, Electron, Oxygen, Microscope, Lipid bilayer, Tetrahydrofuran, Diethyl ether, Botryococcus braunii


Magnetic flocculant was synthesized for the highly efficient recovery of microalgal cells. The highest flocculation was achieved using the magnetic flocculant synthesized with iron oxide and 0.1 mg/mL cationic polyacrylamide (CPAM). This resulted in a recovery efficiency of more than 95% within 10 min using a dosage of 25 mg/L for Botryococcus braunii and 120 mg/L for Chlorella ellipsoidea. For both species, the adsorption isotherm data fit the Freundlich model better than the Langmuir model, indicating that the adsorption process was a heterogeneous multilayer. The maximum adsorption capacity was 114.8 and 21.4 mg dry cells/mg-particles at pH 7 for B. braunii and C. ellipsoidea, respectively. The primary flocculation mechanism was bridging, which was assisted by the electrostatic interactions between the microalgal cells and the magnetic flocculant under acidic conditions. These results provide new opportunities and challenges for understanding and improving the harvesting of microalgae using magnetic separation.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Acid, Adsorption, PH, Botryococcus braunii


Recent understanding that specific algae have high hydrocarbon production potential has attracted considerable attention. Botryococcus braunii is a microalga with an extracellular hydrocarbon matrix, which makes it an appropriate green energy source.

Concepts: Water, Sustainable energy, Botryococcus braunii, Green energy


Botryococcus braunii has long been known as a prodigious producer of liquid hydrocarbon oils that can be converted into combustion engine fuels. This draft genome for the B race of B. braunii will allow researchers to unravel important hydrocarbon biosynthetic pathways and identify possible regulatory networks controlling this unusual metabolism.

Concepts: Genome, Gasoline, Petroleum, Hydrocarbon, Energy development, Oil, Fuel, Botryococcus braunii


The green microalga Botryococcus braunii is considered a promising biofuel feedstock producer due to its prodigious accumulation of hydrocarbon oils that can be converted into fuels. B. braunii Race L produces the C40 tetraterpenoid hydrocarbon lycopadiene via an uncharacterized biosynthetic pathway. Structural similarities suggest this pathway follows a biosynthetic mechanism analogous to that of C30 squalene. Confirming this hypothesis, the current study identifies C20 geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) as a precursor for lycopaoctaene biosynthesis, the first committed intermediate in the production of lycopadiene. Two squalene synthase (SS)-like complementary DNAs are identified in race L with one encoding a true SS and the other encoding an enzyme with lycopaoctaene synthase (LOS) activity. Interestingly, LOS uses alternative C15 and C20 prenyl diphosphate substrates to produce combinatorial hybrid hydrocarbons, but almost exclusively uses GGPP in vivo. This discovery highlights how SS enzyme diversification results in the production of specialized tetraterpenoid oils in race L of B. braunii.

Concepts: Amino acid, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Petroleum, Hydrocarbon, Fuel, Botryococcus braunii


Microalgae are envisioned as a future source of renewable oil. The feasibility of producing high-value biomolecules from microalgae is strongly dependent on developing strains with increased productivity and environmental tolerance, understanding algal gene regulation, and optimizing growth conditions for higher production of target molecules. We present a high-throughput microfluidic microalgal photobioreactor array capable of applying 64 different light conditions to arrays of microscale algal photobioreactors and apply this device to investigate how light conditions influence algal growth and oil production. Using the green colony-forming microalga Botryococcus braunii, the light intensity and light-dark cycle conditions were identified that induced 1.8-fold higher oil accumulation over the typically used culture conditions. Additionally, the studies revealed that the condition under which maximum oil production occurs is significantly different from that of maximum growth. This screening test was accomplished using the developed photobioreactor array at 250 times higher throughput compared to conventional flask-scale photobioreactors.

Concepts: Algae, DNA, Time, Type I and type II errors, Biotechnology, Phytoplankton, Microphyte, Botryococcus braunii


In bio-based industries, Botryococcus braunii is identified as a potential resource for production of hydrocarbons having a wide range of applications in chemical and biopolymer industries. For a sustainable production platform, the algae cultivation should be integrated with downstream processes. Ideally the algae are not harvested, but the product is isolated while cultivation and growth is continued especially if the doubling time is slow. Consequently, hydrocarbons can be extracted while keeping the algae viable. In this study, the effects of pressure on the viability of B. braunii cells were tested hydrostatically and under supercritical CO2conditions. Viability was determined by light microscopy, methylene blue uptake and by re-cultivation of the algae after treatments to follow the growth. It was concluded that supercritical CO2was lethal to the algae, whereas hydrostatic pressure treatments up to 150 bar have not affected cell viability and recultivation was successful.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Carbon, Supercritical fluid, Supercritical carbon dioxide, Inorganic solvents, Botryococcus braunii


Thiol groups grafted silicon surface was prepared as previously described. 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorodecanethiol (PFDT) molecules were then immobilized on such a surface through disulfide bonds formation. To investigate the contribution of PFDT coating to antifouling, the adhesion behaviors of Botryococcus braunii (B. braunii) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) were studied through biofouling assays in the laboratory. The representative microscope images suggest reduced B. braunii and E. coli accumulation densities on PFDT integrated silicon substrate. However, the antifouling performance of PFDT integrated silicon substrate decreased over time. By incubating the aged substrate in 10 mM TCEP·HCl solution for 1 h, the fouled PFDT coating could be removed as the disulfide bonds were cleaved, resulting in reduced absorption of algal cells and exposure of non-fouled silicon substrate surface. Our results indicate that the thiol-terminated substrate can be potentially useful for restoring the fouled surface, as well as maximizing the effective usage of the substrate.

Concepts: Protein, Escherichia coli, Disulfide bond, Enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia, Proteobacteria, Thiol, Botryococcus braunii


Squalene is a linear intermediate to nearly all classes of triterpenes and sterols and is itself highly valued for its use in wide range of industrial applications. Another unique linear triterpene is botryococcene and its methylated derivatives generated by the alga Botryococcus braunii race B, which are progenitors to fossil fuel deposits. Production of these linear triterpenes was previously engineered into transgenic tobacco by introducing the key steps of triterpene metabolism into the particular subcellular compartments. In this study, the agronomic characteristics (height, biomass accumulation, leaf area), the photosynthetic capacity (photosynthesis rate, conductance, internal CO2 levels) and triterpene content of select lines grown under field conditions were evaluated for three consecutive growing seasons. We observed that transgenic lines targeting enzymes to the chloroplasts accumulated 50-150-time more squalene than the lines targeting the enzymes to the cytoplasm, without compromising growth or photosynthesis. We also found that the transgenic lines directing botryococcene metabolism to the chloroplast accumulated 10-33-fold greater levels than the lines where the same enzymes were targeted to in the cytoplasm. However, growth of these high botryococcene accumulators was highly compromised, yet their photosynthesis rates remained unaffected. In addition, in the transgenic lines targeting a triterpene methyltransferase (TMT) to the chloroplasts of high squalene accumulators, 55-65% of total squalene was methylated, whereas in the lines expressing a TMT in the cytoplasm only 6-13% of squalene was methylated. The growth of these methylated triterpene accumulating lines was more compromised than that of non-methylated squalene lines. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Metabolism, Eukaryote, Chloroplast, Plant, Botryococcus braunii