Use of pulsed electric field permeabilization to extract astaxanthin from the Nordic microalga Haematococcus pluvialis

Bioresour Technol. 2019 Oct;289:121694. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2019.121694. Epub 2019 Jun 22.


The Nordic microalgal strain Haematococcus pluvialis was exposed to various stress conditions to induce astaxanthin accumulation. Highest carotenoid content (19.1 mg·g-1dw) was achieved in nitrogen-free culture medium at a high light intensity. The efficiency of Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) pre-treatment of stressed fresh biomass of H. pluvialis followed by incubation in the growth medium was compared to classical disruption methods (bead-beating, freezing-thawing, thermal treatment or ultrasound) for the subsequent extraction of astaxanthin in ethanol. N-starved cells treated with PEF followed by aqueous incubation for 6 h resulted in extraction of 96% (18.3 mgcar·gdw-1) of the total carotenoid content compared to 80% (15.3 mgcar·gdw-1) using other physical methods. The proportion of free forms of astaxanthin was higher in PEF-treated samples compared to mechanical disruption, suggesting PEF triggering an esterase activity. PEF pre-treatment of the cells followed by incubation in growth medium improved astaxanthin extraction in the eco-friendly solvent ethanol.

Keywords: Astaxanthin; Extraction; Incubation; Microalgae; Pulsed electric field (PEF).

MeSH terms

  • Biomass
  • Chlorophyceae / chemistry*
  • Electricity
  • Microalgae / chemistry*
  • Xanthophylls / isolation & purification


  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine