Resource utilization of microalgae from biological soil crusts: biodiesel production associated with desertification control

Shubin Lan, Qingyi Zhang, Qiaoning He, Haijian Yang, Chunxiang Hu

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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With the continuing consumption of resources and increasingly prominent environmental issues, microalgal resource utilization has received extensive attention. In this study, based on the microalgal investigation in desert biological soil crusts (BSCs) using pyrosequencing technology, the cultivated crust microalgae were further isolated in order to obtain high quality microalgae for resource utilization. The results showed that with crust development and succession, microalgal diversity gradually decreased, including the number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and genus, although Microcoleus always was the dominant genera. Pyrosequencing obtained 630 OTUs of cyanobacteria, 25 OTUs of green algae and 9 OTUs of diatom; however, part of cultivated microalgae still could not yet be detected due to the DNA extraction preferences and errors caused by PCR amplification. After isolation, four strains were purified and cultivated, including two filamentous cyanobacteria Microcoleus vaginatus BSC-06 and Scytonema javanicum BSC-39, and two unicellular green algae Chlorella sp. BSC-24 and Monoraphidium dybowskii BSC-81. The two green algae grew fast (>250 mg L-1 d-1), and achieved high lipid productivity up to 75–85 mg L-1 d-1, with lipid content of 28.7–39.0%, thus was considered as promising feedstock for biodiesel production. In addition, the two crust cyanobacteria could be used to construct artificial cyanobacterial soil crusts in desertification control, although their biomass accumulation was not as high as that in the green algae. Ultimately, combining biodiesel production with desertification control would not only improve desert environments, but also provide ideal places for the local microalgal resource exploitation, further promoting desert socioeconomic development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Early online date28 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2018


  • Biodiesel
  • Biological soil crusts
  • Cyanobacterial inoculation
  • Desert
  • Microalgae


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