The green alga Parietochloris incisa contains a significant amount of the nutritionally valuable polyunsaturated fatty acid and arachidonic acid (AA) and is being considered for mass cultivation for commercial AA production. This study was primarily aimed to define a practical medium formulation that can be used in commercial mass cultivation that will contribute to a substantial increase in the AA productivity of P. incisa with concomitant reduction of nutritional cost. The effect of nutrient limitation on growth and AA content of this microalga was explored in a batch culture in outdoor conditions using a vertical tubular photobioreactor. The study was conducted in two parts: the first was primarily focused on the effect of different nitrogen concentration on growth and AA content and the second part compares nitrogen deprivation, combination of nitrogen and phosphorus deprivation, and combined overall nutrient limitations at different levels of deprivation under low and high population densities. Since complete nitrogen deprivation hampers lipid and AA accumulation of P. incisa, thus, a critical value of nitrogen supply that will activate AA accumulation must be elucidated under specific growth conditions. Under the present experimental conditions, 0.5 g1 sodium nitrate obtained a higher AA productivity and volumetric yield relative to the nitrogen-deprived culture corresponding to 36.32 mg L1 day1 and 523.19 mg L1. The combined nitrogen and phosphorus limitation seemed to enhance AA productivity better than nitrogen deprivation alone. The effect of overall nutrient limitation indicates that acute nutrient deficiency can trigger rapid lipid and AA syntheses. The effect of light as a consequence of culture cell density was also discussed. This study therefore shows that the nutrient cost can be greatly reduced by adjusting the nutrient levels and culture density to induce AA accumulation in P. incisa.
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