Indian researchers study lipid production potential of fungi

By Erin Voegele | June 07, 2012

A research paper published in the peer reviewed journal Microbial Cell Factories shows that single-cell oils accumulated by oleaginous fungi have potential for use as a biodiesel feedstock. According to the paper, these fungi could be used to produce single-cell oils from lignocellulosic biomass. The study addressed in the paper was competed by researchers from the University of Pune in India and involved the investigation of 14 strains of fungi, which were isolated from the mangrove wetlands along the west coast of India.

According to the paper, the cells of the fungi were investigated with respect to oleaginicity, cell mass, lipid content, fatty acid methyl ester profiles and physicochemical properties of transesterified single-cell oils. These factors were described as being useful in exploring their potential for biodiesel production.

The researchers found lipid bodies were present in five of the 14 isolates studied, and determined that those fungi were able to accumulate more than 20 percent of their dry cell mass as lipids. Furthermore, the paper noted that the transesterified oils were high in saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. The strain aspergillus terreus was identified by the researchers as the most promising of the isolates studied. According to the paper, the strain was able to produce oil using sugarcane bagasse, grape stalk, groundnut shells and cheese whey as substrate.

The paper also points out that the use of oleaginous fungi as biodiesel feedstock offers several advantages. For example, the authors point out that they can easily be grown in bioreactors, have short life cycles, grow rapidly, and are unaffected by space, light or climatic variations.

A full copy of the paper, titled “Single cell oil oleaginous fungi from the tropical mangrove wetlands as a potential feedstock for biodiesel,” can be downloaded from the journal’s website. 

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