First outdoor cultivation of the N2-fixing cyanobacterium Tolypothrix sp. in low-cost suspension and biofilm systems in tropical Australia

Velu, Chinnathambi, Cirés, Samuel, Alvarez-Roa, Carlos, and Heimann, Kirsten (2015) First outdoor cultivation of the N2-fixing cyanobacterium Tolypothrix sp. in low-cost suspension and biofilm systems in tropical Australia. Journal of Applied Phycology, 27 (5). pp. 1743-1753.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Tropical N2-fixing cyanobacteria offer an attractive alternative for production of biomass and bioproducts with potentially low cultivation and harvesting costs. The present study evaluated the biomass productivity of the N2-fixing cyanobacterium Tolypothrix sp. NQAIF319 grown in nitrogen-free medium in outdoor suspension and biofilm prototype cultivation systems in tropical Australia (Queensland). One-week cycles yielded maximum biomass productivities — estimated based on ground area occupied by single systems — of 45–49 g dry weight m−2 day−1 (suspension) and 1.0–1.2 g dry weight m−2 day−1 (biofilm) with minimal biological contamination (Tolypothrix sp. biomass representing 94–98% of the photosynthetic community). Moderate productivities of the pigments phycocyanin/phycoerythrin (0.1–2.8 g m−2 day−1), fatty acids (0.1–2.0 g m−2 day−1), and nitrogen stored in the biomass (0.1–5.9 g m−2 day−1) were reached in biofilm and suspension systems, respectively, opening avenues for production of low-value commodities with potentially big markets (nitrogen-rich biofertilizers and aquaculture feed) and higher-value chemicals (phycobiliproteins and fatty acids). Simulated multi-system arrangements yielded theoretical overall areal productivities four to six times lower than those in single systems thus highlighting the need for future tests fine-tuning inter-system separation to minimize shadowing while maximizing the efficiency in land use in larger-scale production plants. Biofilm and self-flocculated biomass showed 80-fold and 53-fold reduced extracellular-water contents compared to suspension cultures, respectively, which will need to be considered for techno-economic and water/carbon footprint evaluation of each of the possible bioproduct synthesis pathways. In conclusion, the flexible and simple prototypes developed together with the good properties of Tolypothrix sp. represent a promising platform for low-cost production of cyanobacterial bioproducts in tropical regions using low nitrogen containing water sources.

Item ID: 39174
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-5176
Keywords: biofertilizer, bioproduct, dewatering, phycocyanin, phycoerythrin, productivity
Related URLs:
Additional Information:

A version of this publication was included as Chapter 5 of the following PhD thesis: Velu, Chinnathambi (2019) Potential of tropical filamentous cyanobacteria for low-cost bioremediation and bioproduct synthesis. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (AMCRC)
Projects and Grants: AMCRC grant no. 2.3.4
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2015 00:16
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060701 Phycology (incl Marine Grasses) @ 30%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development @ 30%
10 TECHNOLOGY > 1003 Industrial Biotechnology > 100302 Bioprocessing, Bioproduction and Bioproducts @ 40%
SEO Codes: 85 ENERGY > 8505 Renewable Energy > 850501 Biofuel (Biomass) Energy @ 30%
86 MANUFACTURING > 8603 Processed Non-Food Agriculture Products (excl. Wood, Paper and Fibre) > 860302 Organic Fertilisers @ 70%
Downloads: Total: 5
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page