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WP1 - Production of microalgae


Assoc. Professor Niels T. Eriksen, Department of Biotechnology, Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, AAU


The aim of WP1 is to design and optimize cultures of ’feed-algae’ with specific, nutritional compositions, and to develop heterotrophic microalgal cultures of high nutritional value in order to create sufficient productivity for quantitative feeding experiments with mussels at larger scale

Scientific personnel

  • Daniel Pleissner (DP) started his 3-year PhD-project on April 1, 2009. Daniel Pleissner is employed at SDU but will conduct approx. 18 months of research on microalgal cultures at AAU.
  • Research assistant Kim Lundgreen (KL), SDU has contributed to the production of phototrophic microalgae for bivalve feeding at Marine Biological Research Centre, Kerteminde since mid-2008.
  • Muge Isleten (MI), exchange PhD student from Ege University, Turkey has completed a 6 month research period working on lipid production in heterotrophic Crypthecodinium cohnii from 01.04.09-30.09.09 at AAU.
  • Bjørn Lund Danielsen (BLD), ‘diplomingeniørstuderende’ at AAU, has completed a 30 ECTS BSc project on starch production in heterotrophic Galdieria sulphuraria from 01.03.09-31.10.09.
  • Ana García (AG), exchange PhD student from University of Cádiz, Spain has carried out a 3 month project on gas exchange in phototrophic microalgae in photobioreactors, April-June 2010 at AAU
  • Martin Malthe Borch (MMB), guest student from DTU has carried out a 5 ECTS project on controlled CO2 additions in photobioreactors, Spring 2010 at AAU
  • Döndü Yalçın (DY), MSc exchange student from Ege University, Turkey has carried out a project on isolation of heterotrophic microalgae from Feb-June, 2010 at AAU
  • 15 MSc students in biotechnology have at their 5th semester carried out 16 ECST projects on growth, pigment and lipid formation in heterotrophic Crypthecodinium cohnii, Chlorella saccharophila and Galdieria sulphuraria during fall semesters 2008-2010, AAU.
    Associate Professor Niels T. Eriksen (NTE), AAU is acting as supervisor for the students involved in this project and participates in research activities.
  • Professor Hans Ulrik Riisgård (HUR), SDU participates in supervision and research activities.

Past activi
ties (Jan 2008 – Mar 2012)

  • A novel 3 L photobioreactor for continuous production of Rhodomonas sp. under controlled conditions has been designed, optimised and installed in April 2008 at Marine Biological Research Centre, Kerteminde. Since mid-2008 the photobioreactor has been in use producing algae for mussel feeding experiments. A second reactor is currently used for optimisation of the design and studies of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. This reactor will later be used to increase the capacity for production of phototrophic feed algae.
  • Heterotrophic Galdieria sulphuraria has been produced at Aalborg University and used for mussel feeding experiments at Marine Biological Research Centre, Kerteminde.
  • Investigation on growth and lipid content in heterotrophic Chlorella spp. has been started.
  • Heterotrophic cultures of Crypthecodinium cohnii have been studied at Aalborg University, and culture conditions have been optimised with respect to growth, biomass productivity, and the lipid content of the cells.
  • Continuous flow cultures of Crypthecodinium cohnii subjected to carbon, nitrogen, or phosphorous limitation have been developed and characterised with respect to biochemical composition of the biomass (DP).
  • Methods for lipid and fatty acid analysis in Crypthecodinium cohnii, based on gas chromatography and staining combined with fluorescence spectroscopy have been developed.
  • A novel method for analysis of amino acids in growth media of high salinity has been developed.
  • Continuous production of phototrophic ‘feed-algae’, Rhodomonas sp. in photobioreactors as feed in bioenergetics experiments with blue mussels (see WP2) feeding on phototrophic microalgae.
  • Heterotrophic Crypthecodinium cohnii produced in processes developed at AAU have been used for feeding studies at Marine Biological Research Centre, Kerteminde.

Ongoing activities (Mar-Dec 2012)

  • Collaborations between the original MarBioShell partners, Institute of Biology, SDU and Section of Biotechnology, AAU and a new partner, Institute of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, SDU (TekFak-SDU-KBM, former Odense Teknikum) have been formalised. The collaborations will focus on the production and consumption of phototrophic feed algae and the design of phototrophic algal cultures, and will supplement on-going MarBioShell activities on feeding in mussels and production of phototrophic as well as heterotrophic feed algae. The collaboration will involve students and researchers from all 3 institutions, and funding has been allocated to support research activities carried out by students from TekFak-SDU-KBM.


Scientific articles (peer reviewed)

Pleissner D, Wimmer R, Eriksen NT (2011) Quantification of amino acids in fermentation media by isocratic HPLC analysis of their α-hydroxy acid derivatives. Analyt. Chem. 83: 175-181.

Pleissner D, Eriksen NT (2011) Growth and biochemical composition of Crypthecodinium cohnii grown carbon-, nitrogen-, or phosphorous-limited in continuous flow culture. Biotechnology and Bioengineering (in press)

Eriksen NT (2012). Heterotrophic microalgae in biotechnology, In Johansen MN (ed) Microalgae: Biotechnology, microbiology and energy. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. ISBN 987-1-61324-625-2, pp. 387-412.

Reports (M.Sc., Engineer, Bachelor)

Bjørn Lund Nielsen (2009) Analysis of the starch content in Galdieria sulphuraria - a potential feed in mussel farming. Graduation project (dip. ing.), Department of Biotechnology, Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, Aalborg University.

Fig. 1. Left. Photo-bioreactor designed for continuous production of phototrophic feed algae during initial optimisation tests using Chlorella vulgaris. Inset indicates scale (3 L). Right. Fluorescence micrograph of Crypthecodinium cohnii stained with Nile Red. Yellow fluorescence is from Nile Red dissolved in intracellular lipid droplets. Left inset shows same cells under bright field. Top inset shows cell under dark field.

Conference contributions

Borch MM, Eriksen NT, Bjerre AB (2011) Development and screening of sustainable algae fermentation medium (poster) 4th Congress of the International Society for Applied Phycology, Halifax, Canada 19-24/6 2011

Pleissner D, Eriksen NT (2011) Derivatization of amino acids to corresponding α-hydroxy acids and their analysis in fermentation broths (poster) 6th Danish Conference on Biotechnology and Molecular Biology. Synthetic biology and cell factories, Vejle, Denmark 26-27/5 2011

Eriksen NT (2010) Heterotrophic microalgal cultures and the synthesis of pigments of polu-unsaturated fatty acids. Workshop on algal biotechnology and cultivation - a Nordic perspective. Gothenburg, Sweden 25/11 2010

Pleissner D, Eriksen NT (2010) Production and control of biochemical composition of the heterotrophic dinoflagellate Crypthecodinium cohnii in continuous cultures. Workshop on algal biotechnology and cultivation - a Nordic perspective. Gothenburg, Sweden 25/11 2010

Eriksen NT, Pleissner D, Isleten M (2010) Pigment and lipid synthesis in heterotrophic microalgal cultures (lecture) Vth International Bioengineering Congress, Izmir, Turkey 16-19/6 2010

Pleissner D, Eriksen NT (2010) Continuous culture of the heterotrophic dinoflagellate Crypthecodinium cohnii (poster) 8th European Workshop Biotechnology of Microalgae, Potsdam, Germany 7-10/6 2010