Identification and Functional Analysis of Delta-9 Desaturase, a Key Enzyme in PUFA Synthesis, Isolated from the Oleaginous Diatom Fistulifera
Microalgae have been widely reported as a promising source of biofuels, mainly based on their high areal productivity of biomass and lipids as triacylglycerides and the possibility for cultivation on non-arable land. The isolation and selection of suitable strains that are robust and display high growth and lipid accumulation rates is an important prerequisite for their successful cultivation as a bioenergy source, a process that can be compared to the initial selection and domestication of agricultural crops. We developed standard protocols for the isolation and cultivation for a range of marine and brackish microalgae. By comparing growth rates and lipid productivity, we assessed the potential of subtropical coastal and brackish microalgae for the production of biodiesel and other oil-based bioproducts. This study identified Nannochloropsis sp., Dunaniella salina and new isolates of Chlorella sp. and Tetraselmis sp. as suitable candidates for a multiple-product algae crop. We conclude that subtropical coastal microalgae display a variety of fatty acid profiles that offer a wide scope for several oil-based bioproducts, including biodiesel and omega-3 fatty acids. A biorefinery approach for microalgae would make economical production more feasible but challenges remain for efficient harvesting and extraction processes for some species.