Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 1021–1034 | Cite as

Desmids (Zygnematophyceae, Streptophyta) as a promising freshwater microalgal group for the fatty acid production: results of a screening study

  • Marija StamenkovićEmail author
  • Elin Steinwall
  • Anders K. Nilsson
  • Angela Wulff


This study aimed to investigate fatty acid content and productivity of the insufficiently investigated group of freshwater microalgae—desmids (Zygnematophyceae, Streptophyta)—and to estimate their commercial potential. A total of 29 desmid strains of various environmental preferences were grown in standard cultivation conditions to assess fatty acid concentration and composition and biomass productivity during the growth phases. Six desmid strains belonging to Cosmarium crenatum var. boldtianum, C. meneghinii, C. regnellii var. pseudoregnellii, C. leave, Staurastrum boreale, and S. punctulatum had distinctly high total fatty acid contents (> 200 mg g−1 dry weight), among which C. crenatum had by far the highest average of total fatty acids (308.1 mg g−1 dry weight). Despite that desmids were grown in a medium which was not enriched with nutrients and CO2, these six strains achieved moderate biomass productivity (up to 0.14 g dry weight L−1 day−1), while the fatty acid productivity was in the range 8–11.1 mg L−1 day−1. The relatively high amounts of linoleic and palmitic acids in C. crenatum var. boldtianum and C. meneghinii were comparable to those found in several commercially grown plants, indicating that fatty acid extracts of these desmids could be utilized in cosmetics, pharmacy, medicine, or in additional industrial applications. On the other hand, the high proportion of oleic acid in a new isolate of Staurastrum boreale, along with its relatively high biomass productivity and cell size, pointed that this strain might be used for further investigations regarding biodiesel production.


Freshwater microalgae Desmids Fatty acids Cosmarium Staurastrum Strain selection 



The authors thank M. Hedblom, J. Pearce and G. Knutsson for valuable support in laboratory.


This research project is supported by the University of Gothenburg, and by the research grant of the Swedish Institute provided to M. Stamenković (SI No. 02390/2016). M. Stamenković is also funded by the project No. 173018 of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marija Stamenković
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Elin Steinwall
    • 1
  • Anders K. Nilsson
    • 1
  • Angela Wulff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden
  2. 2.Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”University of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia

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