Characterization of the flocculating agent from the spontaneously flocculating microalga Chlorella vulgaris JSC-7
High cost of biomass recovery is one of the bottlenecks for developing cost-effective processes with microalgae, particularly for the production of biofuels and bio-based chemicals through biorefinery, and microalgal biomass recovery through cell flocculation is a promising strategy. Some microalgae are naturally flocculated whose cells can be harvested by simple sedimentation. However, studies on the flocculating agents synthesized by microalgae cells are still very limited. In this work, the cell flocculation of a spontaneously flocculating microalga Chlorella vulgaris JSC-7 was studied, and the flocculating agent was identified to be cell wall polysaccharides whose crude extract supplemented at low dosage of 0.5 mg/L initiated the more than 80% flocculating rate of freely suspended microalgae C. vulgaris CNW11 and Scenedesmus obliquus FSP. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis revealed a characteristic absorption band at 1238 cm−1, which might arise from PO asymmetric stretching vibration of PO2−PO2− phosphodiester. The unique cell wall-associated polysaccharide with molecular weight of 9.86×103 g/mol, and the monomers consist of glucose, mannose and galactose with a molecular ratio of 5:5:2. This is the first time to our knowledge that the flocculating agent from C. vulgaris has been characterized, which could provide basis for understanding the cell flocculation of microalgae and breeding of novel flocculating microalgae for cost-effective biomass harvest.
Journal: Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering - Volume 118, Issue 1, July 2014, Pages 29–33