Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Demonstration of transgressive overyielding of algal mixed cultures in microdroplets


Algae are ubiquitous in natural ecosystems and have been studied extensively for biofuel production due to their unique metabolic capabilities. Most studies to date have approached biofuel optimization through synthetic biology and process engineering with few industrial scale projects considering algal community interactions. Such interactions can potentially lead to increased productivity and reduced community invasability, both important characteristics for scalable algal biofuel production. It is estimated that over a million species of algae exist such that elucidating the interactions that might be beneficial for biofuel production remains extremely resource and time intensive. Here we describe a strategy for rapid, high-throughput screening of algal community combinations using a microfluidic platform to generate millions of parallel, nanoliter-scale algal mixed cultures for estimation of biomass accumulation. Model communities were first studied in a bench scale flask experiment and then examined using microfluidic droplets. These experiments showed consistent results for both positively interacting algal bicultures that increase biomass when together, and negatively interacting bicultures that decrease biomass. Specifically, these included enhanced performance of two bicultures, Ankistrodesmus falcatus and Chlorella sorokiniana, Chlorella sorokiniana and Selenastrum minutum, and reduced performance of a biculture consisting of Selenastrum capricornutum and Scenedesmus ecornis. While the ultimate techno-economic feasibility of algal bioproducts hinges on an amalgamation of scientific fields, rapid screening of algal communities will prove imperative for efficiently discovering community interactions.

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 16 Dec 2016, accepted on 12 Jun 2017 and first published on 15 Jun 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6IB00241B
Citation: Integr. Biol., 2017, Accepted Manuscript
  •   Request permissions

    Demonstration of transgressive overyielding of algal mixed cultures in microdroplets

    D. N. Carruthers, C. K. Byun, B. J. Cardinale and X. Lin, Integr. Biol., 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C6IB00241B

Search articles by author