Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1483–1492 | Cite as

The interactions between Chlorella vulgaris and algal symbiotic bacteria under photoautotrophic and photoheterotrophic conditions

  • Zhi Guo
  • Yen Wah Tong


A Chlorella vulgaris ATCC 13482 culture was semi-continuously cultivated for 18 months in a 4-L photobioreactor and formed associated consortia with other symbionts. Three symbiotic bacterial strains were isolated on heterotrophic medium agar plates. Based on 16S rDNA analysis, they were found to show closest similarity to Pseudomonas alcaligenes, Elizabethkingia miricola and Methylobacterium radiotolerans. C. vulgaris was co-cultured with each bacterial strain, and it was found that the symbiotic bacterium Pseudomonas sp. had a growth-promoting effect on C. vulgaris while the other two inhibited algal growth. The interactions between C. vulgaris and Pseudomonas sp. were further investigated under different cultivation conditions. The co-culture resulted in 1.4 times greater algal cell concentration than that of C. vulgaris alone under photoautotrophic condition. In contrast, the algal cell concentration was lower in the co-culture compared with single algal culture when glucose was supplied in the medium (photoheterotrophic). Under both cultivation conditions, the number of Pseudomonas sp. increased at the beginning of experiment, and then decreased. However, the bacterial number decreased to almost zero under photoheterotrophic conditions, while the growth of bacteria went into a stationary phase under photoautotrophic conditions. The chlorophyll content in C. vulgaris cell was higher in co-culture than in single algal culture. Algal cells in photoautotrophic condition showed higher photosynthetic efficiency compared to those in photoheterotrophic condition. Extracellular organic carbon dissolved in the medium continuously increased under photoautotrophic condition. The mutualistic and competing relationships between C. vulgaris and symbiotic bacteria observed in this study could aid our understanding of algae–bacteria interactions in nature as well as broadening its practical applications.


Microalgae Chlorella vulgaris Symbiotic bacteria Interactions 



We acknowledge the funding support under the grant number R302000011112 and the research scholarship for Mr. Zhi Guo from the National University of Singapore. This research is also supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore under its CREATE Programme (Singapore–Peking University Research Centre for a Sustainable Low Carbon Future).

Supplementary material

10811_2013_186_MOESM1_ESM.doc (680 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringNUS Environment Research Institute, National University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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