AMB Express

Bioprospecting for acidophilic lipid-rich green microalgae isolated from abandoned mine site water bodies.

PMID 24670060


With fossil fuel sources in limited supply, microalgae show tremendous promise as a carbon neutral source of biofuel. Current microalgae biofuel strategies typically rely on growing high-lipid producing laboratory strains of microalgae in open raceways or closed system photobioreactors. Unfortunately, these microalgae species are found to be sensitive to environmental stresses or competition by regional strains. Contamination by invasive species can diminish productivity of commercial algal processes. A potential improvement to current strategies is to identify high-lipid producing microalgae, which thrive in selected culture conditions that reduce the risk of contamination, such as low pH. Here we report the identification of a novel high-lipid producing microalgae which can tolerate low pH growth conditions. Lig 290 is a Scenedesmus spp. isolated from a low pH waterbody (pH = 4.5) in proximity to an abandoned lignite mine in Northern Ontario, Canada. Compared to a laboratory strain of Scendesmus dimorphus, Lig 290 demonstrated robust growth rates, a strong growth profile, and high lipid production. As a consequence, Lig 290 may have potential application as a robust microalgal species for use in biofuel production.