Central carbon metabolism and electron transport in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii: metabolic constraints for carbon partitioning between oil and starch

Eukaryot Cell. 2013 Jun;12(6):776-93. doi: 10.1128/EC.00318-12. Epub 2013 Mar 29.


The metabolism of microalgae is so flexible that it is not an easy task to give a comprehensive description of the interplay between the various metabolic pathways. There are, however, constraints that govern central carbon metabolism in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that are revealed by the compartmentalization and regulation of the pathways and their relation to key cellular processes such as cell motility, division, carbon uptake and partitioning, external and internal rhythms, and nutrient stress. Both photosynthetic and mitochondrial electron transfer provide energy for metabolic processes and how energy transfer impacts metabolism and vice versa is a means of exploring the regulation and function of these pathways. A key example is the specific chloroplast localization of glycolysis/gluconeogenesis and how it impacts the redox poise and ATP budget of the plastid in the dark. To compare starch and lipids as carbon reserves, their value can be calculated in terms of NAD(P)H and ATP. As microalgae are now considered a potential renewable feedstock, we examine current work on the subject and also explore the possibility of rerouting metabolism toward lipid production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism*
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Electron Transport
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Glycolysis
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / biosynthesis*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Oils / metabolism*
  • Starch / metabolism*


  • Lipids
  • Plant Oils
  • NADP
  • Carbon
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Starch