Lipid production through the single-step microwave hydrolysis of macroalgae using the oleaginous yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima

Felix Abeln, Jiajun Fan, Vitaliy L. Budarin, Hannah Briers, Sophie Parsons, Michael J. Allen, Daniel A. Henk, James Clark, Christopher J. Chuck

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Macroalgae (seaweeds) represent an emerging resource for food and the production of commodity and specialty chemicals. In this study, a single-step microwave process was used to depolymerise a range of macroalgae native to the United Kingdom, producing a growth medium suitable for microbial fermentation. The medium contained a range of mono- and polysaccharides as well as macro- and micronutrients that could be metabolised by the oleaginous yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima. Among twelve macroalgae species, the brown seaweeds exhibited the highest fermentation potential, especially the kelp Saccharina latissima. Applying a portfolio of ten native M. pulcherrima strains, yeast growth kinetics, as well as production of lipids and 2-phenylethanol were examined, with productivity and growth rate being strain dependent. On the 2 L scale, 6.9 g L−1 yeast biomass – a yield of 0.14 g g−1 with respect to the supplied macroalgae – containing 37.2% (w/w) lipid was achieved through utilisation of the proteins, mono- and polysaccharides from S. latissima, with no additional enzymes. In addition, the yeast degraded a range of fermentation inhibitors released upon microwave processing at high temperatures and long holding times. As macroalgae can be cultured to food grade, this system offers a novel, potentially low-cost route to edible microbial oils as well as a renewable feedstock for oleochemicals.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 665992 

Original languageEnglish
Article number101411
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalAlgal Research
Early online date15 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Macroalgae
  • Marine biorefinery
  • Metschnikowia pulcherrima
  • Microbial lipids
  • Microwave depolymerisation
  • Saccharina latissima

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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