12-11: Screening for optimal algal cell growth and neutral lipid production conditions in microplates

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Napoleon Ballroom C-D, 3rd fl (Sheraton New Orleans)
Paul Held and Peter Banks, Applications, BioTek Instruments, Winooski, VT
The increase in the price of fossil fuels and the reality of global climate change has brought an increased interest in renewable sources of energy products.  Algae based products offer many potential advantages over the food based sources of energy, but signifcant amounts of research are still required in order to make them an economically viable option.  Unfortunately algal research has not extensively utilized the tool of high throughput screening using microplates that has been successfully employed in fields such as drug discovery.
Microplate based experimentation offers the ability to measure large numbers of samples of multiple experimental conditions rapidly and simultaneously.  Here we describe the quantitation of algal cell growth under various growth media conditions using a microplate reader to make absorbance and fluorescent determinations.  Turbidimetry measurements were used to monitor cell growth and Nile Red stain fluorescence  monitored neutral lipid production under various nutrient deficient states.  Algal cells grow to a 20 fold greater density in complete-nutrient rich media than in either nutrient poor or nitrogen deficient media. Despite the disparity in cell number, cultures grown in nitrogen deficient media exhibit more neutral lipid staining.  On a per cell basis Chlorella vulgaris cultures grown in nitrogen deficient media have 15 fold more lipid than cells grown in complete media. When nutrient deprived cells are placed in complete media, lipid droplets are quickly reabsorbed and Nile red staining returns to basal levels.  The use of microplates enables the simultaneous measurement of multiple samples and experimental conditions. 
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