Author(s): Lawton RJ, de Nys R, Paul NA
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Abstract Intensive cultivation of freshwater macroalgae is likely to increase with the development of an algal biofuels industry and algal bioremediation. However, target freshwater macroalgae species suitable for large-scale intensive cultivation have not yet been identified. Therefore, as a first step to identifying target species, we compared the productivity, growth and biochemical composition of three species representative of key freshwater macroalgae genera across a range of cultivation conditions. We then selected a primary target species and assessed its competitive ability against other species over a range of stocking densities. Oedogonium had the highest productivity (8.0 g ash free dry weight m⁻² day⁻¹), lowest ash content (3-8\%), lowest water content (fresh weigh: dry weight ratio of 3.4), highest carbon content (45\%) and highest bioenergy potential (higher heating value 20 MJ/kg) compared to Cladophora and Spirogyra. The higher productivity of Oedogonium relative to Cladophora and Spirogyra was consistent when algae were cultured with and without the addition of CO₂ across three aeration treatments. Therefore, Oedogonium was selected as our primary target species. The competitive ability of Oedogonium was assessed by growing it in bi-cultures and polycultures with Cladophora and Spirogyra over a range of stocking densities. Cultures were initially stocked with equal proportions of each species, but after three weeks of growth the proportion of Oedogonium had increased to at least 96\% (±7 S.E.) in Oedogonium-Spirogyra bi-cultures, 86\% (±16 S.E.) in Oedogonium-Cladophora bi-cultures and 82\% (±18 S.E.) in polycultures. The high productivity, bioenergy potential and competitive dominance of Oedogonium make this species an ideal freshwater macroalgal target for large-scale production and a valuable biomass source for bioenergy applications. These results demonstrate that freshwater macroalgae are thus far an under-utilised feedstock with much potential for biomass applications.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology