Boosting Algae Growth Using Yeast Co-cultivation

Jim Crocker
7th April, 2024

Boosting Algae Growth Using Yeast Co-cultivation

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Scientists at Osaka Metropolitan University boosted CO2 fixation in green algae by pairing it with yeast
  • Algae co-cultured with yeast grew 1.5 times more than algae alone
  • Yeast provides nitrogen and energy, enhancing algae's CO2 absorption efficiency
In the quest to tackle the escalating problem of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, scientists have been exploring innovative ways to enhance the natural process of CO2 fixation. One such method involves using green algae, microscopic plant-like organisms capable of photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert CO2 and sunlight into oxygen and energy. However, under normal atmospheric conditions, the efficiency of green algae to fix CO2 is relatively low, presenting a significant hurdle in the fight against global warming. Researchers at Osaka Metropolitan University have made a breakthrough in improving the CO2 fixation efficiency of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by co-culturing it with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae[1]. This study builds upon previous research that has shown optimizing conditions for algal growth, such as light intensity and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) levels, can significantly increase the rate and maximum biomass of microalgae like Chlorella vulgaris[2]. Additionally, studies have indicated that elevated CO2 levels and controlled temperatures can enhance the growth of microalgae[3], further supporting the potential of biological methods in reducing greenhouse gas emissions[4]. The Osaka Metropolitan University study sought to determine the optimal culture conditions to boost the growth potential of C. reinhardtii by pairing it with S. cerevisiae. The results were remarkable: when co-cultured with an initial ratio of 1:3 (algae to yeast), the cell concentration of C. reinhardtii reached 133 × 10^5 cells/mL by the 18th day, which was 1.5 times higher than when the algae were grown alone. To understand what drove this enhanced growth, the researchers conducted a transcriptome analysis, which examines the complete set of RNA transcripts produced by the genome under specific circumstances. They discovered that the expression of 363 genes in the algae and 815 genes in the yeast changed during co-cultivation. Notably, genes associated with ammonium transport and CO2 enrichment mechanisms in the algae, as well as genes involved in glycolysis and stress responses in the yeast, were affected. The findings suggest that the yeast provides a source of inorganic nitrogen for the algae, which is a vital nutrient for algal growth. Moreover, the yeast's metabolism appears to offer additional energy that the algae can use for growth rather than for CO2 enrichment. This synergistic relationship between the two organisms leads to a more efficient use of resources and, consequently, a higher CO2 fixation rate. The study's implications are significant for the development of biological CO2 fixation strategies. By leveraging the natural interactions between different microorganisms, it may be possible to create more efficient systems for capturing atmospheric CO2. This could lead to more sustainable and cost-effective methods for managing greenhouse gas emissions. In conclusion, the collaborative effort between green algae and yeast, as demonstrated by the Osaka Metropolitan University study, opens new avenues for improving the CO2 fixation capabilities of microalgae. This research not only provides a deeper understanding of the intricate dynamics between heterotrophic microorganisms and algae but also presents a promising approach to augmenting the role of microalgae in atmospheric CO2 reduction. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, such innovative solutions are crucial in our collective efforts to create a more sustainable future.

BiotechEcologyPlant Science


Main Study

1) Improvement of cell growth in green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii through co-cultivation with yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Published 5th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Kinetic characteristics and modeling of microalgae Chlorella vulgaris growth and CO2 biofixation considering the coupled effects of light intensity and dissolved inorganic carbon.

3) Biomass production potential of a wastewater alga Chlorella vulgaris ARC 1 under elevated levels of CO₂and temperature.

4) An overview of biological processes and their potential for CO2 capture.

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