Diatoms are a major group of unicellular algae that are rich in lipids and carotenoids. However, sustained research efforts are needed to improve the strain performance for high product yields towards commercialization. In this study, we generated a number of mutants of the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, a cosmopolitan species that has also been found in Nordic region, using the chemical mutagens ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) and N-methyl-N0-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (NTG). We found that both chlorophyll a and neutral lipids had a significant correlation with carotenoid content and these correlations were better during exponential growth than in the stationary growth phase. Then, we studied P. tricornutum common metabolic pathways and analyzed correlated enzymatic reactions between fucoxanthin synthesis and pigmentation or lipid metabolism through a genome-scale metabolic model. The integration of the computational results with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry data revealed key compounds underlying the correlative metabolic pathways. Approximately 1000 strains were screened using fluorescence-based high-throughput method and five mutants selected had 33% or higher total carotenoids than the wild type, in which four strains remained stable in the long term and the top mutant exhibited an increase of 69.3% in fucoxanthin content compared to the wild type. The platform described in this study may be applied to the screening of other high performing diatom strains for industrial applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Drug Discovery