Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 19, pp 8255–8265 | Cite as

Effects of multi-temperature regimes on cultivation of microalgae in municipal wastewater to simultaneously remove nutrients and produce biomass

  • Kaiwei Xu
  • Xiaotong Zou
  • Hao Wen
  • Yating Xue
  • Yanhui Qu
  • Yanpeng LiEmail author
Environmental biotechnology


Coupling algal cultivation with wastewater treatment due to their potentials to alleviate energy crisis and reduce environmental burden has attracted the increased attention in recent years. However, these microalgal-based processes are challenging since daily and seasonal temperature fluctuation may affect microalgal growth in wastewater, and the effects of the temperature regimes on microalgal biomass production and wastewater nutrient removal remain unclear. In this study, Chlorella vulgaris was continuously cultured for 15 days in municipal wastewater to investigate the effects on the algal biomass and wastewater nutrient removal in three temperature regimes: (1) low temperature (4 °C), (2) high temperature (35 °C), and (3) alternating high-low temperature (35 °C in the day: 4 °C at night). Compared with the other two temperature regimes, the high-low temperature conditions generated the most biomass (1.62 g L-1), the highest biomass production rate (99.21 mg L-1 day-1), and most efficient removal of COD, TN, NH3-N, and TP (83.0%, 96.5%, 97.8%, and 99.2%, respectively). In addition, the polysaccharides, proteins, lipid content, and fatty acid methyl ester composition analysis indicates that in alternating high-low temperature condition, biomass production increased the potential for biofuel production, and there was the highest lipid content (26.4% of total dry biomass). The results showed that the nutrients except COD were all efficiently removed in these temperature conditions, and the alternating high-low temperature condition showed great potential to generate algal biomass and alleviate the wastewater nutrients. This study provides some valuable information for large-scale algal cultivation in wastewater and microalgal-based wastewater treatments.


Chlorella vulgaris Multi-temperature regimes Wastewater treatment Main cellular components 


Funding information

The authors would like to thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51478045), Key Laboratory of Degraded and Unused Land Consolidation Engineering of the Ministry of Land and Resources of China (SXDJ2017-6), supported by the Fund Project of Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Land Consolidation (2018-ZD04), and the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Central Colleges, Chang’an University (300102299703 and 300102299708) for funding this project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringChang’an UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecology in Arid AreasMinistry of EducationXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Land ConsolidationXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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