Enhancement of co-production of nutritional protein and carotenoids in Dunaliella salina using a two-phase cultivation assisted by nitrogen level and light intensity

Yixing Sui, Maarten Muys, Dedmer B. Van de Waal, Sarah D'Adamo, Pieter Vermeir, Tânia V. Fernandes, Siegfried E. Vlaeminck (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Microalga Dunaliella salina is known for its carotenogenesis. At the same time, it can also produce high-quality protein. The optimal conditions for D. salina to co-produce intracellular pools of both compounds, however, are yet unknown. This study investigated a two-phase cultivation strategy to optimize combined high-quality protein and carotenoid production of D. salina. In phase-one, a gradient of nitrogen concentrations was tested. In phase-two, effects of nitrogen pulse and high illumination were tested. Results reveal optimized protein quantity, quality (expressed as essential amino acid index EAAI) and carotenoids content in a two-phase cultivation, where short nitrogen starvation in phase-one was followed by high illumination during phase-two. Adopting this strategy, productivities of protein, EAA and carotenoids reached 22, 7 and 3 mg/L/d, respectively, with an EAAI of 1.1. The quality of this biomass surpasses FAO/WHO standard for human nutrition, and the observed level of β-carotene presents high antioxidant pro-vitamin A activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121398
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue numberSeptember 2019
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • international
  • Pigment
  • Nitrogen limitation
  • Food
  • Microalgae
  • Single-cell protein

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