A custom photobioreactor was designed to enable automatic light adjustments using computerized feedback control. The system consisted of a 7.5-L cylindrical vessel and an aluminum enclosure housing quantum sensors and light-emitting diode arrays, which provide 630 or 680 nm light to preferentially excite the major cyanobacterial pigments, phycocyanin and/or chlorophyll a, respectively. Custom-developed software rapidly measures light transmission and subsequently adjusts the irradiance to maintain a defined light profile to compensate for culture dynamics, biomass accumulation, and pigment adaptations during physiological transitions, thus ensuring appropriate illumination across batch and continuous growth modes. In addition to chemostat cultivation, the photobioreactor may also operate as a turbidostat, continuously adjusting the media dilution to achieve maximal growth at a fixed culture density. The cultivation system doubles as an analytical device, using real-time monitoring to avoid sampling bias (e.g., in-situ light-saturation response), determine conditions for optimal growth, and observe perturbation responses at high time-resolution.
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