Metabolic and morphological changes of an oil accumulating trebouxiophycean alga in nitrogen-deficient conditions

Takuro Ito, Miho Tanaka, Haruka Shinkawa, Takashi Nakada, Yoshitaka Ano, Norihide Kurano, Tomoyoshi Soga, Masaru Tomita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Oil-rich algae have promising potential for a next-generation biofuel feedstock. Pseudochoricystis ellipsoidea MBIC 11204, a novel unicellular green algal strain, accumulates a large amount of oil (lipids) in nitrogen-deficient (-N) conditions. Although the oil bodies are easily visualized by lipophilic staining in the cells, little is known about how oil bodies are metabolically synthesized. Clarifying the metabolic profiles in -N conditions is important to understand the physiological mechanisms of lipid accumulations and will be useful to optimize culture conditions efficiently produce industrial oil. Metabolome and lipidome profiles were obtained, respectively, using capillary electrophoresis- and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry from P. ellipsoidea in both nitrogen-rich (+N; rapid growth) and -N conditions. Relative quantities of more than 300 metabolites were systematically compared between these two conditions. Amino acids in nitrogen assimilation and N-transporting metabolisms were decreased to 1/20 the amount, or less, in -N conditions. In lipid metabolism, the quantities of neutral lipids increased greatly in -N conditions; however, quantities of nearly all the other lipids either decreased or only changed slightly. The morphological changes in +N and -N conditions were also provided by microscopy, and we discuss their relationship to the metabolic changes. This is the first approach to understand the novel algal strain's metabolism using a combination of wide-scale metabolome analysis and morphological analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-187
Number of pages10
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • Liquid chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Metabolic profile
  • Oil-rich algae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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