Proximate Biomass Characterization of the High Productivity Marine Microalga Picochlorum celeri TG2: Article No. 108364

Alaina LaPanse, Anagha Krishnan, Galen Dennis, Devin Karns, Lukas Dahlin, Stefanie Van Wychen, Tyson Burch, Michael Guarnieri, Joseph Weissman, Matthew Posewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microalgae are compelling renewable resources with applications including biofuels, bioplastics, nutrient supplements, and cosmetic products. Picochlorum celeri is an alga with high industrial interest due to exemplary outdoor areal biomass productivities in seawater. Detailed proximate analysis is needed in multiple environmental conditions to understand the dynamic biomass compositions of P. celeri, and how these compositions might be leveraged in biotechnological applications. In this study, biomass characterization of P. celeri was performed under nutrient-replete, nitrogen-restricted, and hyper-saline conditions. Nutrient-replete cultivation of P. celeri resulted in protein-rich biomass (~50% ash-free dry weight) with smaller carbohydrate (~12% ash-free dry weight) and lipid (~11% ash-free dry weight) partitions. Gradual nitrogen depletion elicited a shift from proteins to carbohydrates (~50% ash-free dry weight, day 3) as cells transitioned into the production of storage metabolites. Importantly, dilutions in nitrogen-restricted 40 parts per million (1.43 mM nitrogen) media generated high-carbohydrate (~50% ash-free dry weight) biomass without substantially compromising biomass productivity (36 g ash-free dry weight m-2 day-1) despite decreased chlorophyll (~2% ash-free dry weight) content. This strategy for increasing carbohydrate content allowed for the targeted production of polysaccharides, which could potentially be utilized to produce fuels, oligosaccharides, and bioplastics. Cultivation at 2X sea salts resulted in a shift towards carbohydrates from protein, with significantly increased levels of the amino acid proline, which putatively acts as an osmolyte. A detailed understanding of the biomass composition of P. celeri in nutrient-replete, nitrogen-restricted, and hyper saline conditions informs how this strain can be useful in the production of biotechnological products.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-87450


  • biomass composition
  • high productivity
  • marine
  • microalgae
  • nitrogen deplete


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