The effect of ultrasound on the growth and viability of microalgae cells

Eaodoin Joyce, P. King, Timothy J. Mason

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    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Ultrasound has shown potential for both increasing microalgal lipid extraction yields and for the control of microalgal blooms through cell disruption. The effect of ultrasound on the viability of microalgae was investigated on the following species: Dunaliella salina, Chlamydomonas concordia and Nannochloropsis oculata. Sonication with a 20 kHz probe (0.086 W cm-3) caused complete cell disruption of D. salina after 4 min. This microalgae species does not have a true cell wall. In the case of C. concordia which has a thin cell wall complete cell disruption under the same conditions took 16 min. Under the same conditions, there was no visible disruption of N. oculata, a species which has a thick cell wall. However spectro-fluorophotometer analysis of the sonicated suspension of N. oculata showed that although the cells were intact, the level of intracellular chlorophyll was reduced by ~10 %. This clearly indicated damage to the microalgal cell wall. After 16 min, treatment cultures of all three species remained viable. Programmed cell death (PCD) has been induced in some microalgal species to terminate algal blooms; ultrasonic application did not induce PCD in any species tested. The supernatant of sonicated D. salina and C. concordia has also been shown to be able to boost the growth of established cultures. These results provide important information concerning the uses of ultrasound in both the microalgal biofuels industry and for the control of microalgal blooms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1741-1748
    JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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    • biofuels
    • cell disruption
    • microalgae
    • re-growth
    • ultrasound
    • viability
    • water treatment


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