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Cultivation of Emiliania huxleyi for coccolith production

Coccoliths are plates of CaCO3 produced from coccolithophorid microalgae cells. The coccolithophorid species Emiliana huxleyi has been intensively studied for being the most abundant calcite producing microorganism in the ocean. Fixing inorganic CO2 by photosynthesis and biomineralization contributes significantly to global carbon cycling with 1-10%. Cocoliths also exhibit exceptional optical features. They are feasible enzyme carriers. The coccoliths are more robust in calcium-free solution and pure water compared to synthetic calcite particle, cause of the organic skeleton. Cocosphere-covered cells show a transition of structural color under the influence of a strong magnetic field. These unique properties could be exploited for multiple applications such as in the paper manufacturing, colors and lacquers, drug delivery and more.

Coccoliths have until now received little attention cause of the lack of adequate material quantities about coccoliths production. In this study, we developed a comprehensive cultivation strategy for coccolith production in a batch-mode system and in the gL-1 scale. The following pillars have been reviewed:
(1) a cultivation environment supporting light supply and bubble-free homogenization and aeration
(2) a control of the carbonate system, which reliably enabled a pH ≥ 8, and the constant subsequent delivery of dissolved inorganic carbon, and
(3) the constant supply with PO43− , NO3− , Ca2+ and Sr2+ in non-inhibiting concentrations.
We hope to provide a starting point for further developments and to increase the interest in coccolithophorid mass cultivation.

Authors: Jakob, Ioanna; Weggenmann, Fabiola; Posten, Clemens

Journal: Algal Research (April 2018), Volume 31, Pages 47-59

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