Effects of Nitrogen and Sulfur Deprivation on β-Carotene and Fatty Acid content of Dunaliella salina

Document Type: Research(Original) Article


1 Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 71345-1583, Shiraz, Iran.

2 Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 71345-1583, Shiraz, Iran


Dunaliella salina a green unicellular chlorophycean microalga, is famous as a robust carotenoid, fatty acids and also biomass producer. Biomass, lipid and β-carotene levels in D. salina increases during nutrient deprivation conditions. In this study the effects of nitrogen and sulfur starvation, on β-carotene, lipid and biomass production and composition in a naturally isolated D. salina strain was studied. Johnson culture medium was exploited for subculturing and growth of the studied strain. Direct cell counting method and also dry cell weight measurement were used for monitoring the cell growth. β-carotene production was measured using spectrophotometry method. The experiments were performed in 22 days with two different growth stages composed of 8 days of nutrient rich and 14 days of nitrogen and sulfur deprived media. The studied microalgal strain showed a higher biomass production and cell growth rate in comparison with the starvation condition. Moreover, a significant increase of cellular β-carotene and lipid contents was observed under nitrogen and sulfur limitation. The studied microalgal strain contained some important fatty acid with food, feed and biodiesel potentials. The obtained results suggested the applicability of macroelements deprivation strategy to elevate the carotenoids and lipid accumulation in D. salina with the minimum biomass reduction.

  1. Zuluaga M, Gueguen V, Pavon-Djavid G, Letourneur D. Carotenoids from microalgae to block oxidative stress. BioImpacts. 2017;7(1):1-3.
  2. Fachet M, Flassig RJ, Rihko-Struckmann LK, Sundmacher K. Carotenoid production process using green microalgae of the Dunaliella genus: Model-based analysis of interspecies variability. Ind Eng Chem Res. 2017;56(45):12888-98.
  3. Gomez PI, Barriga A, Cifuentes AS, Gonzalez MA. Effect of salinity on the quantity and quality of carotenoids accumulated by Dunaliella salina (strain CONC-007) and Dunaliella bardawil (strain ATCC 30861) Chlorophyta. Biol Res. 2003;36(2):185-92.
  4. Chen M, Tang H, Ma H, Holland TC, Ng KY, Salley SO. Effect of nutrients on growth and lipid accumulation in the green algae Dunaliella tertiolecta. Bioresour Technol. 2011;102(2):1649-55.
  5. Lamers PP, Janssen M, De Vos RCH, Bino RJ, Wijffels RH. Carotenoid and fatty acid metabolism in nitrogen-starved Dunaliella salina, a unicellular green microalga. J Biotechnol. 2012;162(1):21-7.
  6. Bonnefond H, Moelants N, Talec A, Mayzaud P, Bernard O, Sciandra A. Coupling and uncoupling of triglyceride and beta-carotene production by Dunaliella salina under nitrogen limitation and starvation. Biotechnol Biofuel. 2017;10(1):25.
  7. Lv H, Qiao C, Zhong C, Jia S. Metabolic fingerprinting of Dunaliella salina cultured under sulfur deprivation conditions. J Appl Phycol. 2018;30(1):355-6.
  8. Lv H, Cui X, Wahid F, Xia F, Zhong C, Jia S. Analysis of the physiological and molecular responses of Dunaliella salina to macronutrient deprivation. PLOS One. 2016;11(3):e0152226.
  9. Katoh K, Standley DM. MAFFT multiple sequence alignment software version 7: Improvements in performance and usability. Mol Biol Evol. 2013;30(4):772-80.
  10. Kumar S, Stecher G, Tamura K. MEGA7: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis version 7.0 for bigger datasets. Mol Biol Evol. 2016;33(7):1870-4.
  11. Morowvat MH, Ghasemi Y. Culture medium optimization for enhanced β-carotene and biomass production by Dunaliella salina in mixotrophic culture. Biocatal Agric Biotechnol. 2016;7:217-23.
  12. Masuko T, Minami A, Iwasaki N, Majima T, Nishimura S-I, Lee YC. Carbohydrate analysis by a phenol–sulfuric acid method in microplate format. Anal Biochem. 2005;339(1):69-72.
  13. Shaker S, Morowvat MH, Ghasemi Y. Effects of sulfur, iron and manganese starvation on growth, carotene production and lipid profile of Dunaliella salina. J Young Pharm. 2017;9(1):43-6.
  14. Tan KWM, Lin H, Shen H, Lee YK. Nitrogen-induced metabolic changes and molecular determinants of carbon allocation in Dunaliella tertiolecta. Sci Rep. 2016;6:37235.
  15. Courchesne NMD, Parisien A, Wang B, Lan CQ. Enhancement of lipid production using biochemical, genetic and transcription factor engineering approaches. J Biotechnol. 2009;141(1-2):31-41.
  16. Phadwal K, Singh P. Effect of nutrient depletion on β-carotene and glycerol accumulation in two strains of Dunaliella sp. Bioresour Technol. 2003;90(1):55-8.