Taxonomic identification and lipid production of two Chilean Chlorella-like strains isolated from a marine and an estuarine coastal environment

Mariela A. González, Thomas Pröschold, Yussi Palacios, Paula Aguayo, Ingrid Inostroza, Patricia I. Gómez

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The genus Chlorella was the first microalga to be massively cultured as food, feed and as a source of nutraceuticals. More recently, some species have been suggested as candidates for biodiesel production. One of the most difficult tasks in studying the systematics of green coccoids is the identification of species assigned to the genus Chlorella. In the context of several projects carried out by our research group we isolated two Chlorella-like strains from a marine and an estuarine coastal environment in Chile (Coliumo strain and Baker strain, respectively). The main objectives of this research were to identify these Chilean strains-at the species level-and determine and compare their lipid production when cultured under identical conditions. Cell size and shape, autospore number and sizes, and chloroplast and pyrenoid ultrastructure were considered as taxonomic descriptors, and 18S rDNA sequences and internal transcribed spacer ITS-1 + ITS-2 sequences and secondary structure were adopted as phylogenetic tools. The combined use of these morphological, ultrastructural and molecular attributes revealed that only the Baker strain belongs to the genus Chlorella (C. vulgaris), while the Coliumo strain corresponds to the recently amended genus Chloroidium (C. saccharophilum). Lipid characterization of the biomass obtained from these strains showed that Chlorella vulgaris (Baker strain) appears to be suitable as a raw material for biodiesel production, while Chloroidium saccharophilum (Coliumo strain) would be more appropriate for animal nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberplt020
Number of pages12
JournalAOB Plants
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • 18S rDNA sequences
  • Chlorella-like strains
  • ITS secondary structure
  • Light and transmission electron microscopy
  • Lipid characterization
  • Taxonomic identification

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