Cryopreservation of some useful microalgae species for biotechnological exploitation

Abreu, Ligia; Borges, Lucélia do Valle; Marangoni, Juliano César; Abreu, Paulo Cesar Oliveira Vergne de


Culture collections of microalgae represent a biological resource for scientific research and biotechnological applications. When compared to the current methods of maintenance and sub-culturing, cryopreservation minimizes labor costs and is an effective method for maintaining a large range of species over long periods with high stability. In order to determine the best cryopreservation method for microalgae species with great biotechnological potential, three freezing protocols were employed using different cryoprotectants (dimethyl sulfoxide—Me2SO; methanol— MeOH). Three marine microalgae species (Thalassiosira weissflogii; Nannochloropsis oculata, and Skeletonema sp.) were cooled by directly plunging into liquid nitrogen (−196°C) and with two-step controlled cooling protocols (−18°C and −80°C pre-treatments). After storage periods ranging from 10 to 120 days, viability was determined by the ability of cells to actively grow again. Results obtained for T. weissflogii showed that this species could be preserved at ultra-low temperature (−196°C) for 10 and 30 days with 10% Me2SO and 5% MeOH when employed a controlled cooling protocol (−80°C). N. oculata was successfully cryopreserved either by direct freezing or with controlled cooling protocols. N. oculata samples presented good responses when treated with 5% Me2SO, 10% Me2SO, 5% MeOH and even without any cryoprotectant. Skeletonema sp. did not survive cryopreservation in any of the tested conditions. The results indicate the difficulty in establishing common protocols for different microalgae species, being necessary further studies for a better understanding of cell damages during freezing and thawing conditions for each species.

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