Efficient extraction of a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-rich lipid fraction from Thraustochytrium sp. using ionic liquids

Yujie Zhang, Valerie Ward, Dorothy Dennis, Natalia V. Plechkova, Roberto Armenta, Lars Rehmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
246 Downloads (Pure)


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a significant role in the modulation and prevention of various diseases, and hence are attracting increasing attention from the biotech industry. Thraustochytrids are marine heterokonts that exhibit robust growth rates, high PUFA content, and more specifically, a large percentage of omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Recently, ionic liquids (ILs) have been shown to improve the efficiency of organic solvent extraction of oils from wet oleaginous yeast and microalgae under mild conditions. Two ILs, the imidazolium 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium ethylsulfate [C2mim][EtSO4] IL and the phosphonium (tetrabutylphosphonium propanoate [P4444][Prop]) IL were assessed for their ability to facilitate extraction of PUFA-containing lipids from a Thraustochytrium sp. (T18) through efficient cell wall disruption. The oil extracted after IL pretreatment was further characterized with respect to fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) composition, while the effects of process parameters, such as the ratio of ionic liquid to co-solvent, the mass ratio of microalgae to the mixture of ionic liquid, and type of co-solvent were also investigated for both ILs. The results indicate that these ILs can disrupt the cells of Thraustochytrium sp. when mixed with a co-solvent (methanol), and facilitated the recovery of oils over a large degree of dewatered Thraustochytrium biomass (0-77.2 wt% water) in a short period of time (60 min) at ambient temperature, hence demonstrating a water compatible, low-energy, lipid recovery method. The lipid recovery was not affected by repeated usage of recycled ILs (tested up to five times).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1986
Pages (from-to)1-11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2018


  • Ionic liquids
  • Microalgae
  • Omega 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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