Indoor algae culture systems

The Wageningen Marine Research indoor facilities for the cultivation of microalgae consist of incubators which hold the stock and starter cultures for various algae species and climate rooms for intermediate-scale cultures.

The incubator and climate room can be set at different temperatures, different light intensities and different light regimes, depending on the requirements of the algae species in culture.
The stock cultures are kept in 30 ml flasks while the starter cultures are grown in 100 ml flasks. The intermediate scale culture takes place in 3 liters Erlenmeyer’s or 25 liters plastic bags (depending on the scale of the experiment which requires food).

Algae cultures are grown in sterile nutrient-enriched seawater. Seawater is obtained directly from the EasternScheldt, and treated by sedimentation. After this step the water can be treated as desired via filtered through a series of membrane cartridge filters of different mesh sizes (100 µm to 0.2 µm).
In order to complete the process of sterilization, the water for the stock, starter and 3 liters Erlenmeyer’s culture can be autoclaved. The 25 liters plastic bags are chemically sterilized with sodium hypochlorite for a period of 24 hours. After this, the residual free-chlorine is neutralized with sodium thiosulphate.
After the sterilizing treatment the seawater is enriched with additional nutrients which include nitrates, phosphates, essential trace elements and vitamins. The addition of nutrients and inoculation of the algae cultures takes place in a flow cabinet minimizing like this the risk of contamination of the culture by particles of the surrounding air.

Until this moment, the species in culture at the facilities of IMARES are marine species. However, due to new experiments where the growth of microalgae in drain water is tested, a series of brackish and fresh water species are included in the range of algae.