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Biological Chemistry

Lipid Production For Biodiesel Boosted By Small Molecules

ACS Meeting News: Inexpensive additives to microalgae cultures work at low concentrations

by Jyllian Kemsley
April 15, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 15

This week’s selections are from the ACS national meeting, which took place on April 7–11 in New Orleans.
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Credit: Diana Wong/UC Davis
Wong and colleagues screened small molecules using microplates of algae cultures.
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Credit: Diana Wong/UC Davis
Wong and colleagues screened small molecules using microplates of algae cultures.

A green tea antioxidant or a common food preservative can enhance microalgae production of lipids for biofuels, reported Diana M. Wong of the University of California, Davis (ACS Chem. Biol., DOI: 10.1021/cb300573r). Wong, Annaliese K. Franz, and colleagues used microplate screening of four microalgae strains to identify small molecules that would promote lipid production but not hinder microalgae growth. Small-molecule concentrations ranged from picomolar to micromolar. The researchers then tested a subset of compounds in 500-mL batch cultures. Included among the promising compounds were the green tea antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate, propyl gallate, and the food preservative butylated hydroxyanisole. Propyl gallate and butylated hydroxyanisole each increased Nannochloropsis salina lipid productivity by more than 60% and would cost 4 cents or less to dose a 50,000-L pond, Wong said.

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