BACTERIAL INFLUENCE UPON GROWTH AND HYDROCARBON PRODUCTION OF THE GREEN ALGA BOTRYOCOCCUS BRAUNII1
Batch cultures of the hydrocarbon-rich alga Botryococcus braunii, Kütz. (axenic strains, non-axenic strains, associations with selected microorganisms) were examined with regard to total biomass and hydrocarbons at the onset of the stationary phase. Pronounced variations, related to the origin of the strains and to growth conditions, were observed with axenic cultures. It also appeared that the presence of microorganisms is not essential for high hydrocarbon production. Nevertheless, numerous bacteria were shown to exert considerable influence, antagonistic or beneficial, on B. braunii growth yield and hydrocarbon production. Such effects were strongly dependent on the species involved and on culture conditions. The presence of various microorganisms can influence not only the quantity of hydrocarbons produced, but also their level in the algal biomass and their relative abundance. However, their chemical structure is not affected. Intricate relationships were observed in B. braunii-bacteria systems and numerous factors (including, in some cultures, large positive effects due to bacterially produced CO2) were implicated. Accordingly, specific associations should provide appropriate conditions for renewable hydrocarbon production via B. braunii large scale cultures.