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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101411
Number of pages9
JournalAlgal Research
Early online date15 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


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

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