Accumulation of phycocyanin in heterotrophic and mixotrophic cultures of the acidophilic red alga Galdieria sulphuraria

Jenni K. Sloth, Marilyn Wiebe, Niels T. Eriksen (Corresponding Author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    102 Citations (Scopus)


    The relationship between light intensity, nitrogen availability and pigmentation was investigated in mixotrophic and heterotrophic cultures of the unicellular red alga Galdieria sulphuraria 074G, a potential host for production of the blue pigment, phycocyanin (PC). During the exponential growth phase of batch cultures, G. sulphuraria 074G contained 2–4 mg phycocyanin per g dry weight. In carbon-limited and nitrogen-sufficient batch cultures grown in darkness, this value increased to 8–12 mg g−1 dry weight during the stationary phase, whereas the phycocyanin content in nitrogen-deficient cells decreased to values below 1 mg g−1 dry weight during stationary phase. Light intensities between 0 and 100 μmol photons m−2 s−1 had no influence on phycocyanin accumulation in mixotrophic cultures grown on glucose or fructose, while light stimulated phycocyanin synthesis in cultures grown on glycerol, in which the phycocyanin content in stationary phase was increased from 10 mg g−1 dry weight in darkness to 20 mg g−1 dry weight at a light intensity of 80 μmol photons m−2 s−1. At higher light intensities, less phycocyanin accumulated than at lower intensities, irrespective of the carbon substrate used. In carbon-limited continuous flow cultures grown on glucose or glycerol at a dilution rate of 0.63 day−1, corresponding to 50% of the maximum specific growth rate, the highest steady-state phycocyanin content of 15–28 mg g−1 dry weight was found at 65 μmol photons m−2 s−1. In contrast to the apparent glucose repression of light-induced PC synthesis observed in batch cultures, no glucose repression of the light stimulation was observed in continuous flow cultures because the glucose concentration in the culture supernatant always remained at limiting levels. Despite the fact that G. sulphuraria 074G contains less phycocyanin than some other microalgae and cyanobacteria, the ability of G. sulphuraria 074G to grow and synthesize phycocyanin in heterotrophic or mixotrophic cultures makes it an interesting alternative to the cyanobacterium, Spirulina platensis presently used for synthesis of phycocyanin.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)168-175
    Number of pages8
    JournalEnzyme and Microbial Technology
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Galdieria sulphuraria
    • Phycocyanin
    • Light intensity
    • Nitrogen limitation
    • Carbon limitation


    Dive into the research topics of 'Accumulation of phycocyanin in heterotrophic and mixotrophic cultures of the acidophilic red alga Galdieria sulphuraria'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this