Marine heterotrophic microalgal species which are potentially rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6n-3) have been found in Taiwan; however, there was a lack of detailed analysis and characterization of these indigenous algae which is needed for the development of commercial applications. Hence, the objective of this study was to screen DHA-rich heterotrophic microalgae species indigenous to Taiwan for commercial purposes. Heterotrophic microalgae from a variety of marine habitats were isolated, cultivated, and then identified according to their 18S rRNA gene sequences and morphological characteristics. A comparison was made of their fatty acid profiles, fatty acid content, and amount of biomass. For the strain with highest DHA yield, the optimal growth conditions were determined in order to establish the best fermentation conditions for scale-up. In this study, 25 heterotrophic microalgal strains were successfully isolated from marine habitats around Taiwan. All of the isolated strains showed a close phylogenic relationship with the Thraustochytriaceae family according to their 18S rRNA gene sequences. GC/MS analysis discerned seven distinctive fatty acid profiles of these strains, with the production of eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5n-3) ranging from 0.02 to 2.61 mg L -1, and DHA ranging from 0.8 to 18.0 mg L -1. An Aurantiochytrium strain BL10 with high DHA production was subsequently chosen for further manipulation. Under optimal growth conditions it could produce up to 59. 0 g of dry biomass per liter of culture, with dry biomass containing 73% total fatty acid and 29% DHA, revealing BL10 as an excellent source of microbial DHA.
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