Sensitivity of live microalgal aquaculture feed to singlet oxygen-based photodynamic therapy

Danilo Malara, Lone Høj, Michael Oelgemöller, Martino Edoardo Malerba, Gabriella Citarrella, Kirsten Heimann

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Highly nutritional microalgal species are extensively used in aquaculture as live feedstock. Due to difficulties in maintaining microalgae in axenic conditions, they represent a potential pathogen carrier and disease vector in aquaculture ponds. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) via singlet oxygen (1O2) production is a promising sterilization technique in aquaculture. Here, we report on the sensitivity of aquaculture-relevant microalgae towards 1O2 generated by the cationic photosensitizer TMPyP. Possible PDT sterilization protocols of contaminated microalgae cultures were evaluated using the luminescent bacterium Vibrio campbellii ISO7 as a model aquaculture pathogen. Species-specific sensitivity of microalgae to TMPyP-mediated PDT was demonstrated and found to be strongly influenced by the nature and architecture of their respective cell wall. While cytotoxicity was not evident against Nannochloropsis oculata, toxicity of 1O2 was dose-, time- and light activation-dependent against Tisochrysis lutea, Tetraselmis chui, Chaetoceros muelleri and Picochlorum atomus. The 1O2-resilient N. oculata was sterilized when incubated under light in the presence of V. campbellii ISO7 (up to 107 CFU mL−1) and 20 μM TMPyP; hence, TMPyP-based PDT sterilization of N. oculata could be suitable for aquaculture hatcheries. This study also suggests that PDT using cationic porphyrins such as TMPyP holds potential as an algicidal treatment in aquaria and aquaculture systems (but more research using opportunistic and toxic species is needed for confirmation).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3593-3606
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Microalgae
  • Photoinactivation
  • Sterilization
  • Aquaculture live feed
  • Photodynamic antimicrobial chemotherapy

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