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Researchers find new cold-tolerant, lipid-producing alga in Rocky Mountains

Researchers from the University of Minnesota report finding a new strain of cold-tolerant, lipid-producing yellow-green algae—heterococcus sp. DN1—in the snow fields of the Rocky Mountains. They report their finding in a paper accepted in the journal Biotechnology Progress.

Algae that can grow in extreme conditions and accumulate lipids are of great interest to industry. H. sp. DN1 was found to grow at temperatures approaching freezing and to accumulate large intracellular stores of lipids.

The team found that as H. sp. DN1 produces the highest quantity of lipids when grown undisturbed with high light in low temperatures, it is a potential source of lipids for human nutrition when grown undisturbed, and it has an ideal lipid profile for biofuel production when stressed.

We have isolated and characterized a new cold-tolerant lipid-producing strain of algae from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, US. This may have implications for the commercial production of algal lipids at northern latitudes where the culture of other algal species is limited or impossible.

—Dr. David Nelson, lead author


  • David Nelson, Sinafik Mengistu, Paul Ranum, Gail Celio, Mara Mashek, Douglas Mashek, Paul Lefebvre (2013) New lipid-producing, cold-tolerant yellow-green alga isolated from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Biotechnology Progress doi: 10.1002/btpr.1755



The extremophiles yield all sorts of interesting and useful stuff.

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