Background: Algal cells produce neutral lipid when stressed and this can be used to generate biodiesel.
Objective: Salt stressed cells of the model microalgal species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
were tested for their suitability to produce lipid for biodiesel.
Methods: The starchless mutant of C. reinhardtii (CC-4325) was subjected to salt stress (0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 M NaCl) and transesterification and GC analysis were used to determine fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) content and profile.
Results: Fatty acid profile was found to vary under salt stress conditions, with a clear
distinction between 0.1 M NaCl, which the algae could tolerate, and the higher levels of NaCl (0.2 and 0.3 M), which caused cell death. Lipid content was increased under salt conditions, either through long-term exposure to 0.1 M NaCl, or short-term exposure to 0.2 and 0.3 M NaCl. Palmitic acid (C16:0) and linolenic acid (C18:3n3) were found to increase significantly at the higher salinities.
Conclusion: Salt increase can act as a lipid trigger for C. reinhardtii.