Physiological characteristics of Spirulina platensis (Cyanobacteria) cultured at ultrahigh cell densities

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Photosynthetic activity and growth physiology of Spirulina platensis (Nordstedt) Geitler cultures maintained at ultrahigh cell densities (i.e. above 100 mg chlorophyll· L-1) in a newly designed photobioreactor were investigated. Nitrogen (NaNO3) in standard Zarouk medium was characterized as a major nutrient-limiting factor in such cultures. The effect of ultrahigh cell density on photoinhibition of photosynthesis, as reflected by chlorophyll fluorescence and photosynthetic oxygen evolution, was studied: elevating the population density may arrest photoinhibition induced by high photon flux density, as well as low temperature. The relationship between incident irradiance and oxygen production rate was linear in situ for cultures at the optimal cell density, indicating that light limitation rather than light saturation or photoinhibition is the dominant condition outdoors in cultures of ultrahigh cell densities. In contrast with other reports, the extent of biomass loss at night due mainly to dark respiration was found to be relatively small when cell density was optimal, exerting only a minor effect on overall net productivity. Measurements of oxygen consumption at night revealed low rates of respiration, which may be explained by the low value of the volumetric mass transfer coefficient (KLa) of oxygen. Hence, reduced oxygen tension may play a role in preventing full expression of the respiratory potential in ultrahigh cell density cultures in which photoadaptive strategy may explain cell composition. Ultrahigh cell densities optimized with respect to the intensity of the light source, the length of the light path, and the extent of stirring represent the key for obtaining high output rates of cell mass and some natural products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1073
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Phycology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1996


  • Chemical composition
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Dark respiration
  • Night biomass loss
  • Photobioreactor
  • Photosynthesis
  • Productivity
  • Spirulina platensis
  • Ultrahigh cell density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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