Harnessing the self-harvesting capability of benthic cyanobacteria for use in benthic photobioreactors
Wood, Susanna A
Packer, Michael A
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Esson, D., Wood, S. A., & Packer, M. A. (2011). Harnessing the self-harvesting capability of benthic cyanobacteria for use in benthic photobioreactors.
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Abstract Benthic species of algae and cyanobacteria (i.e., those that grow on surfaces), may provide potential advantages over planktonic species for some commercial-scale biotechnological applications. A multitude of different designs of photobioreactor (PBR) are available for growing planktonic species but to date there has been little research on PBR for benthic algae or cyanobacteria. One notable advantage of some benthic cyanobacterial species is that during their growth cycle they become positively buoyant, detach from the growth surface and form floating mats. This 'self-harvesting' capability could be advantageous in commercial PBRs as it would greatly reduce dewatering costs. In this study we compared the growth rates and efficiency of 'self-harvesting' among three species of benthic cyanobacteria; Phormidium autumnale; Phormidium murrayi and Planktothrix sp.. Phormidium autumnale produced the greatest biomass and formed cohesive mats once detached. Using this strain and an optimised MLA media, a variety of geometries of benthic PBRs (bPBRs) were trialed. The geometry and composition of growth surface had a marked effect on cyanobacterial growth. The highest biomass was achieved in a bPBR comprising of a vertical polyethylene bag with loops of silicone tubing to provide additional growth surfaces. The productivity achieved in this bPBR was a similar order of magnitude as planktonic species, with the additional advantage that towards the end of the exponential phase the bulk of the biomass detached forming a dense mat at the surface of the medium.
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