Biodegradable, metal-chelating compounds as alternatives to EDTA for cultivation of marine microalgae
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Biodegradable, metal-chelating compounds as alternatives to EDTA for cultivation of marine microalgae

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Applied Phycology
  • Description:
    Iron (Fe) is an essential nutrient for microalgal metabolism. The low solubility of Fe in oxic aquatic environments can be a growth-limiting factor for phytoplankton. Synthetic chelating agents, such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), are used widely to maintain Fe in solution for microalgal cultivation. The non-biodegradable nature of EDTA, combined with sub-optimal bioavailability of Fe-EDTA complexes to microalgae, indicates opportunity to improve microalgal cultivation practices that amplify production efficiency and environmental compatibility. In the present study, the effects of four organic chelating ligands known to form readily bioavailable organic complexes with Fe in natural aquatic environments were investigated in relation to growth and biochemical composition of two marine microalgae grown as live feeds in shellfish hatcheries (Chaetoceros calcitrans and Tisochrysis lutea). Three saccharides, alginic acid (ALG), glucuronic acid (GLU), and dextran (DEX), as well as the siderophore desferrioxamine B (DFB), were compared to EDTA. Organic ligands characterized by weaker binding capacity for cationic metals (i.e., ALG, GLU, DEX) significantly improved microalgal growth and yields in laboratory-scale static batch cultures or bubbled photobioreactors. Maximal microalgal growth enhancement relative to the control (e.g., EDTA) was recorded for GLU, followed by ALG, with 20–35% increase in specific growth rate in the early stages of culture development of C. calcitrans and T. lutea. Substitution of EDTA with GLU resulted in a 27% increase in cellular omega 3-polyunsaturetd fatty acid content of C. calcitrans and doubled final cell yields. Enhanced microalgal culture performance is likely associated with increased intracellular Fe uptake efficiency combined with heterotrophic growth stimulated by the organic ligands. Based upon these results, we propose that replacement of EDTA with one of these organic metal-chelating ligands is an effective and easily implementable strategy to enhance the environmental compatibility of microalgal cultivation practices while also maximizing algal growth and enhancing the nutritional quality of marine microalgal species commonly cultured for live-feed applications in aquaculture.
  • Source:
    Journal of Applied Phycology, 33(6), 3519-3537
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    CC BY
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