Astaxanthin biosynthesis from simultaneous N and P uptake by the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis in primary-treated wastewater

Chang Duk Kang, Jin Young An, Tai Hyun Park, Sang Jun Sim

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An alternative microalgal system for biological wastewater treatment is proposed for both the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater and the production of a valuable carotenoid, astaxanthin. The system consists of sequential photoautotrophic cultivation and induction processes using the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis. The Haematococcus process was applied to primary-treated sewage (PTS) and primary-treated piggery wastewater (PTP) with serial dilution. H. pluvialis grew well on PTS and PTP diluted four-fold, resulting in the successful removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from both wastewaters. At that time, cell growth rates were comparable to those in the algal-defined NIES-C medium. Following the cultivation stage, N-deprived vegetative cells were transformed under photoautotrophic induction by continuous feeding of both CO2-mixed gas and intense light to red aplanospores with substantial astaxanthin contents. The resulting astaxanthin contents accounted for about 5.1 and 5.9% of the total biomass of the PTS and PTP cultures, respectively. Our results indicate the potential of the proposed Haematococcus process as a subsidiary wastewater treatment technology with the capability of biosynthesizing the high-value antioxidant astaxanthin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-238
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant (DG2-201) from Carbon Dioxide Reduction & Sequestration Research Center, one of the 21st Century Frontier Programs funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Korean government.


  • Astaxanthin
  • Carotenoid production
  • Haematococcus pluvialis
  • Microalgae
  • Photoautotrophic induction
  • Wastewater treatment


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