Nondestructive monitoring of carotenogenesis in Haematococcus pluvialis via whole-cell optical density spectra

Alexei Solovchenko, Claude Aflalo, Alexander Lukyanov, Sammy Boussiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We investigated the feasibility of rapid, nondestructive assay of carotenoid-to-chlorophyll (Car/Chl) ratio and total carotenoids (Car) in cell suspensions of the carotenogenic chlorophyte Haematococcus pluvialis Flotow under stressful conditions. Whole-cell spectra are characterized by variable nonlinear contributions of Car and chlorophylls (Chl), with a strong influence of Car packaging and sieve effect inherent to stressed H. pluvialis cells. Nevertheless, nondestructive assay of Car/Chl in the range of 0.55-31.2 (Car content up to 188 mg L-1; 5.4 % of the cell dry weight) turned to be achievable with a simple spectrophotometer lacking an integrating sphere upon deposition of the cells on glass fiber filters. The scattering-corrected optical density (OD) in the blue-green region of the whole-cell spectrum, normalized to that in the red maximum of Chl absorption (OD500/OD678), was tightly related (r 2 = 0.96) with the Car/Chl ratio found in extracts. Some features such as the amplitude and position of the minimum of the normalized first-derivative OD whole-cell spectra also exhibited a strong (r 2 > 0.90) nonlinear correlation with Car/Chl. These spectral indices were also tightly related with Car, but the slope of the relationship varied with the stressor intensity. The importance of calibration over the widest possible range of pigment contents and a correct choice of biomass load per filter are emphasized. The advantages and limitations of nondestructive monitoring of carotenogenesis in H. pluvialis are discussed in view of its possible application in optical sensors for laboratory cultivation and mass production systems of the algae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4533-4541
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 May 2013


  • Astaxanthin
  • Carotenogenesis
  • Derivative spectroscopy
  • Haematococcus
  • Noninvasive assay
  • Secondary carotenoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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