Ultrastructure and composition of the Nannochloropsis gaditana cell wall

Matthew J. Scholz, Taylor L. Weiss, Robert E. Jinkerson, Jia Jing, Robyn Roth, Ursula Goodenough, Matthew C. Posewitz, Henri G. Gerken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

289 Scopus citations


Marine algae of the genus Nannochloropsis are promising producers of biofuel precursors and nutraceuticals and are also harvested commercially for aquaculture feed. We have used quick-freeze, deep-etch electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and carbohydrate analyses to characterize the architecture of the Nannochloropsis gaditana (strain CCMP 526) cell wall, whose recalcitrance presents a significant barrier to biocommodity extraction. The data indicate a bilayer structure consisting of a cellulosic inner wall (—75% of the mass balance) protected by an outer hydrophobic algaenan layer. Cellulase treatment of walls purified after cell lysis generates highly enriched algaenan preparations without using the harsh chemical treatments typically used in algaenan isolation and characterization. Nannochloropsis algaenan was determined to comprise long, straight-chain, saturated aliphatics with ether cross-links, which closely resembles the cutan of vascular plants. Chemical identification of >85% of the isolated cell wall mass is detailed, and genome analysis is used to identify candidate biosynthetic enzymes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1450-1464
Number of pages15
JournalEukaryotic Cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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