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Research articles

ScienceAsia 41(2015): 97-107 |doi: 10.2306/scienceasia1513-1874.2015.41.097

Screening for hydrogen-producing strains of green microalgae in phosphorus or sulphur deprived medium under nitrogen limitation

Piyawat Pongpadunga,b, Jianguo Liuc, Kittisak Yokthongwattanad, Sombun Techapinyawatb,e, Niran Juntawonga,b,e,*

ABSTRACT:     Hydrogen gas, one of the best candidates for clean and renewable energy, can be produced by microalgae that can use solar energy to cause photolysis of water. This study screened H2-producing indigenous green microalgae under sulphur (S-) deprivation, simultaneous nitrogen (N-) limitation and S-deprivation, or simultaneous N-limitation and phosphorus (P-) deprivation. Sequences of 18S rDNA and ITS in conjunction with morphological characteristics were used to identify the algae. We report that Chlorella lewinii, Micractinium sp., Coelastrella sp., and Monoraphidium sp. have the ability to produce H2. The increase in H2 photoproduction when N is limited seems to be a universal phenomenon in most tested strains of Chlorella, in all strains of Chlamydomonas, but in no strain of Coelastrella, Micractinium, or Scenedesmus. Chlorella sorokiniana KU204 produced H2 (46 ml/l) under S-deprivation. This strain exhibited the highest H2-producing ability (1.30 ml l−1 h−1) and accumulated up to 90 ml/l under simultaneous N-limitation and S-deprivation. Interestingly, C. sorokiniana KU204 could also produce H2 under simultaneous N-limitation and P-starvation (69 ml/l). The induction time to reach an anoxic state by most tested strains of Chlorella, but not Chlamydomonas, was shorter under simultaneous N-limitation and S-deprivation than under S-deprivation. In addition, those strains of Chlorella exhibited high H2 photoproduction under simultaneous N-limitation and S-deprivation. A few Chlorella strains were unable to reach an anoxic state during the experiment. However, such regularity is not found in Chlamydomonas. The results indicate that the mechanism of H2 photoproduction in Chlorella may differ from that in Chlamydomonas.

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a Research Centre for Photosynthetic Pigments and Secondary Metabolites, Faculty of Science, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900 Thailand
b Bioscience Program, Faculty of Science, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900 Thailand
c Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, Shandong 266071 China
d Department of Biochemistry and Centre for Excellence in Protein Structure and Function, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400 Thailand
e Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900 Thailand

* Corresponding author, E-mail: fscinrj@ku.ac.th

Received 16 Oct 2014, Accepted 17 May 2015