Isolation, Characterization and Identification of Microalgae from the Red Sea

  • Patricio Luque Alanís

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Eukaryotic microalgae from the Red Sea were isolated, characterized and identified with the purpose of building a culture collection that will serve future research activities in the area of industrial microbiology. Seven sampling locations were surveyed using an in-house designed isolation protocol. Microalgae enrichment was carried out in vitro using the streak plate method and fluorescence activated cell sorting approaches. Colonial and cellular microscopy, growth media preference assays, as well as temperature, pH and salinity tolerance tests were carried out to describe the isolates. DNA extraction, PCR amplification, template sequencing and in silico analyses were carried out to identify the isolates and arrange them in a proper phylogenetic description. In total, 129 isolates were obtained. From these, only 39 were selected for characterization given their increased ability of accumulating large amounts of biomass in solid and liquid media in relatively short periods of time. All of these have a green color, are unicellular, non-motile, photosynthetic organisms and have a cell size ranging from 5 to 8 µm. More than half of them showed growth preference in Walne media, followed by F/2, MN and BG-11 SW. Maximum temperature tolerance of all organisms was around 38 ºC, while optimum growth was observed close to 25 ºC. pH preference was diverse and three groups were identified: acidic (6), intermediate (8 - 9) and alkaline (> 10) growing isolates. Salinity tests showed an overall growth preference at 25 PSU, approximately 10 units lower than that found at the sampling stations. Most isolates showed diminished growth at high salinity and high pH, except for OS3S1b which grew well in both cases, and could be an interesting strain to study further. Twenty four isolates were related to Ulvophyceae sp. MBIC10591 by BLAST approaches with a maximum identity of 96 - 97%. A maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree was created for these isolates, relative to the BLAST hits and to some model eukaryotic microalgae for positioning reference. It was shown that the 24 OS isolates are related to each other with a confidence value of 84%. Differential responses of all high biomass producing isolates towards abiotic stresses might suggest that each represents a distinct, novel, unclassified marine organism.
Date of AwardMay 2013
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorVladimir Bajic (Supervisor)


  • Microbiology
  • Phylogenetics
  • Biotechnology
  • Microalgae
  • Extremophile
  • Red Sea

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