Nitrogen Deficiency-Dependent Abiotic Stress Enhances Carotenoid Production in Indigenous Green Microalga Scenedesmus rubescens KNUA042, for Use as a Potential Resource of High Value Products
The microalgal strain Scenedesmus rubescens KNUA042 was identified in freshwater in Korea and characterized by evaluating its stress responses in an effort to increase lipid and carotenoid production. Under a two-stage cultivation process, the algal strain that generally exhibits optimal growth at a nitrate (source of nitrogen) concentration of 0.25 g L−1 was challenged to different exogenous stimuli—salinity (S), light intensity (L), combined L and S (LS), and nitrogen deficiency (C)—for 14
... iency (C)—for 14 days. Lipid production and carotenoid concentration increased in a time-dependent manner under these physicochemical conditions during the culture periods. Lipid accumulation was confirmed by thin layer chromatography, BODIPY staining, and fatty acid composition analysis, which showed no differences in the algal cells tested under all four (C, S, L, and LS) conditions. The quality of biodiesel produced from the biomass of the algal cells met the American Society for Testing and Materials and the European standards. Total carotenoid content was increased in the LS-treated algal cells (6.94 mg L−1) compared with that in the C-, S-, and L-treated algal cells 1.75, 4.15, and 1.32 mg L−1, respectively). Accordingly, the concentration of canthaxanthin and astaxanthin was also maximized in the LS-treated algal cells at 1.73 and 1.11 mg g−1, respectively, whereas lutein showed no differences in the cells analyzed. Conversely, chlorophyll a level was similar among the C-, S-, and LS-treated algal cells, except for the L-treated algal cells. Thus, our results suggested that S. rubescens KNUA042 was capable of producing carotenoid molecules, which led to the maximum values of canthaxanthin and astaxanthin concentrations when exposed to the combined LS condition compared with that observed when exposed to the salinity condition alone. This indicates that the algal strain could be used for the production of high-value products as well as biofuel. Furthermore, this article provides the first evidence of carotenoid production in S. rubescens KNUA042.