The use of fluorescent Nile red and BODIPY for lipid measurement in microalgae

Microalgae are currently emerging as one of the most promising alternative sources for the next generation of food, feed, cosmetics and renewable energy in the form of biofuel. Microalgae constitute a diverse group of microorganisms with advantages like fast and efficient growth. In addition, they do not compete for arable land and offer very high lipid yield potential. Major challenges for the development of this resource are to select lipid-rich strains using high-throughput staining for neutral lipid content in microalgae species. For this purpose, the fluorescent dyes most commonly used to quantify lipids are Nile red and BODIPY 505/515. Their fluorescent staining for lipids offers a rapid and inexpensive analysis tool to measure neutral lipid content, avoiding time-consuming and costly gravimetric analysis. This review collates and presents recent advances in algal lipid staining and focuses on Nile red and BODIPY 505/515 staining characteristics. The available literature addresses the limitations of fluorescent dyes under certain conditions, such as spectral properties, dye concentrations, cell concentrations, temperature and incubation duration. Moreover, the overall conclusion of the present review study gives limitations on the use of fluorochrome for screening of lipid-rich microalgae species and suggests improved protocols for staining recalcitrant microalgae and recommendations for the staining quantification.


Nile red, BODIPY 505/515, Microalgae, Neutral lipid, Fluorescence, Biodiesel

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Rumin Judith, Bonnefond Hubert, Saint-Jean Bruno, Rouxel Catherine, Sciandra Antoine, Bernard Olivier, Cadoret Jean-Paul, Bougaran Gael (2015). The use of fluorescent Nile red and BODIPY for lipid measurement in microalgae. Biotechnology For Biofuels. 8 (42). 1-16.,

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