Simultaneous production of DHA and squalene from Aurantiochytrium sp. grown on forest biomass hydrolysates

Document identifier:
Access full text here:10.1186/s13068-019-1593-6
Keyword: Engineering and Technology, Industrial Biotechnology, Bioprocess Technology, Teknik och teknologier, Industriell bioteknik, Bioprocessteknik, Thraustochytrids, Aurantiochytrium sp., DHA, Squalene, Wood biomass, Organosolv pretreatment, Heterotrophic growth, Lipid production, Biokemisk processteknik, Biochemical Process Engineering
Publication year: 2019
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 3 Good health and wellbeing
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Recent evidence points to the nutritional importance of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the human diet. Thraustochytrids are heterotrophic marine oleaginous microorganisms capable of synthesizing high amounts of DHA, as well as other nutraceutical compounds such as squalene, in their cellular compartment. Squalene is a natural triterpene and an important biosynthetic precursor to all human steroids. It has a wide range of applications in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, with benefits that include boosting immunity and antioxidant activity. Apart from its nutritional quality, it can also be utilized for high-grade bio-jet fuel by catalytic conversion.


In the present study, the potential of thraustochytrid strain Aurantiochytrium sp. T66 to produce DHA and squalene was evaluated. When the strain was cultivated on organosolv-pretreated birch hydrolysate (30 g/L glucose) in flask, it resulted in 10.39 g/L of cell dry weight and 4.98 g/L of total lipids, of which 25.98% was DHA. In contrast, when the strain was grown in a bioreactor, cell dry weight, total lipid, and DHA increased to 11.24 g/L, 5.90 g/L, and 35.76%, respectively. The maximum squalene yield was 69.31 mg/gCDW (0.72 g/L) when the strain was cultivated in flask, but it increased to 88.47 mg/gCDW (1.0 g/L), when cultivation shifted to a bioreactor.


This is the first report demonstrating the utilization of low cost non-edible lignocellulosic feedstock to cultivate the marine oleaginous microorganism Aurantiochytrium sp. for the production of nutraceutical vital compounds. Owing to the simultaneous generation of DHA and squalene, the strain is suitable for industrial-scale production of nutraceuticals.


Alok Patel

Luleå tekniska universitet; Kemiteknik
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Ulrika Rova

Luleå tekniska universitet; Kemiteknik
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Paul Christakopoulos

Luleå tekniska universitet; Kemiteknik
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Leonidas Matsakas

Luleå tekniska universitet; Kemiteknik
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