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Effects of Growth Medium Variation on the Nutri-Functional Properties of Microalgae Used for the Enrichment of Ricotta

Sheyma Khemiri1orcid tiny, Ines Bouchech1,2, Nadia Berrejeb1, Mondher Mejri1orcid tiny, Issam Smaali1orcid tiny and Nadia Khelifi1,2*orcid tiny

1University of Carthage, INSAT, Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Bioactive Molecules (LR11ES24), BP 676, 1080, Cedex, Tunisia

2University of Carthage, Higher Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture, BP 15, Errimel, 7080, Bizerte, Tunisia

Article history:

Received: 20 December 2020

Accepted: 12 November 2021

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Nannochloropsis gaditana; Chlorella sp.; ricotta cheese; growth media; antioxidant ability; nutritional profile; sensory evaluation


Research background. Microalgae represent an emergent sustainable source of bioactive compounds such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can ameliorate the nutritional characteristics of foods. The biochemical composition of microalgae could be modulated by varying the culture conditions to enhance the accumulation of biomolecules of interest. The aim of this work is to optimise the nutri-functional properties of two microalgae that can be used in food production.

Experimental approachNannochloropsis gaditana L2 and Chlorella sp. SM1 were screened for growth, biochemical composition and radical scavenging activity employing four different growth media (algal, BG-11, f/2 and Conway) with different nutrient composition. The feasibility of using Chlorella sp. SM1 cultivated in BG-11 medium, in an under-investigated Mediterranean dairy product ricotta cheese and its effect on the sensory attributes was investigated. Additionally, Arthrospira platensis was used as reference in sensory analysis.

Results and conclusionsNitrate- and phosphate-rich media (BG-11 and algal) enhanced the biomass productivity. However, the highest lipid production (23.10 and 11.86 mg/(L·day) by strains SM1 and L2 respectively) and carbohydrate content (34.79 and 44.84 % by SM1 and L2 respectively) were obtained with the nitrate-deficient f/2 medium. Regardless of the used medium, the lipid profile of Chlorella sp. SM1 and N. gaditana L2 remained adequate for different applications with >50 % C16-18 as the main fatty acids. Significant increase in oleic acid (C18:1) content was recorded in response to nitrogen deficiency, being the highest in SM1 in f/2 medium (34 %). Nitrogen deficiency was also found to enhance phenolic compound (expressed as gallic acid equivalents, 48.8 and 35.1 mg/g in SM1 and L2 respectively) and carotenoid contents (2.2 and 2.0 mg/g in SM1 and L2 respectively). Due to its interesting antioxidant potential, Chlorella sp. SM1 was used at different mass fractions (0.2, 1 and 1.5 %) to enrich the ricotta cheese. The sample with 0.2 % Chlorella sp. SM1 was found to give the most appreciated product.

Novelty and scientific contributionThis study presents the production of an innovative ricotta cheese using Chlorella sp. as a functional ingredient, without altering the manufacturing procedure, while maintaining acceptable sensorial characteristics. The biochemical composition of the used strains varied depending on the culture medium composition, which enabled the accumulation of phytonutrients of interest.

*Corresponding author: +21671703829

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