Botryococcus sp.

Botryococcus braunii

  • The cells may appear as ovoid (centre of the colony) to conical (edge of the colony) in shape. The cells could change shape according to biochemical stages (Iyer et al., 2012).
  • This strain was found in organic sediments remains and was believed to be the major source of petroleum throughout the generation (Iyer et al., 2012).
  • Botryococcus fossils contributed up to 90% of oil shales and approximately 1% of crude oil (Richard et al., 2019).
  • Botryococcus is classified into A, B and L races based on the type of hydrocarbons produced, which ranges from C21 to C33 (Dayananda et al., 2007), A tentative class S, which comprises of epoxy-n-alkane and saturated n-alkane chains with C18 and C20 respectively, was discussed by Kawachi et al. (2012).
  • Currently, SBC’s microalgae library has 1 locally isolated Botryococcus sp. in SBC. 

Natural Habitat

  • Botryococcus sp. can be found in freshwater.
  • SBC’s strain was isolated from a man-made lake.
  • Number of strain isolated in Sarawak:
Division  No. of Strains 
Total 1 


  • Size (nm)
    • Each individual cell ranges in size from 30 to 200 µm in diameter (Schadewijk et al., 2018).
    • The Botryococcus strain in the SBC's microalgae library ranged from 20 to 63 µm in diameter.
  • Flagella
    • No flagella
  • Motile
    • Non-motile
  • Shape
    • Green colonial microalgae
  • Any other published scientific info
    • It accumulates a large number of hydrocarbons with more lipid droplets at extracellular space than the cell cytoplasm. The highest yield was 86% from dry cell weight (Hirose et al., 2013).
    • The cells are embedded in the complex extracellular matrix made of polymerized hydrocarbons (Welss et al., 2014).
    • The buoyancy of the cells was provided by the hydrocarbon matrix to increase light exposure for photosynthesis (Welss et al., 2014).
    • Consist of single or multiple cell clusters which united by transparent strands of hydrocarbon matrix.
    • The colonies appear as red spots on the water. Each conical cell contains small pyrenoids while the ovoid cell contains large pyrenoids (Iyer et al., 2012).

Algae Bioeconomy/Industry

  • Biofuel
    • Botryococcus braunii is recognized as one of the potent renewable resources for Bio-fuel industry (Talukdar et al., 2014).
    • IHI Corp. had announced using a genetically modified Botryococcus sp. to produce biofuel (
  • Bioremediation
    • Several studies (Gani et al., 2015; Órpez, R., et al., 2009; Gokulan, R., et al, 2013; showed that this strain can be used for wastewater phytoremediation.
  • Pigment
    • Botryococcus braunii is considered as an alternative source for carotenoids, it contains lutein as the major carotenoid which is known as one of the beneficial carotenoids in human health applications (Ranga Rao et al., 2017).
  • Cosmetic
    • According to Goureia (2015), the total carbohydrate content of Botryococcus braunii varied from 20% to 76% per gram of the dried biomass. Therefore, these strains can be utilized for cosmetic formulation as moisturizing and thickening agents. The carbohydrate was also found to be exhibiting bioactivities such as antioxidant and skin anti-aging which indicate its potential skin health benefits for value-added in cosmeceutical applications.


Dayananda, C., Sarada, R., Kumar, V. and Ravishankar, G. A. (2007). Isolation and characterization of hydrocarbon producing green alga Botryococcus braunii from Indian freshwater bodies. Electronic Journal of Biotechnology, 10(1). 2007

Gokulan, R., Sathish, N. & Kumar, R.P. (2013). Treatment of grey water using hydrocarbon producing Botryococcus braunii. International Journal of ChemTech Research, 5(3), 1390–1392.

Gani, P., Sunar, N.M., Matias-Peralta, H., Latiff, A.A. & Kamaludin, N.S. (2015).  Experimental study for phycoremediation of Botryococcus sp.  on greywater. Applied Mechanics and Materials. pp: 773-774,1312–1317.

Buono, S., Langellotti, A.L., Martello, A., Bimonte, M., Tito, A., Carola, A., Apone, F., Colucci, G. & Fogliano, V. (2012). Biological activities of dermatological interest by the water extract of the microalga Botryococcus braunii. Achives of Dermatological Research. 304, 755–764.

Gouveia, J. D.,  Ruiz, J., van den Broek, L. A. M., Hesselink, T., Peters, S., Kleinegris, D.M.M.,   Smith, A. G., D., van der Veen, D., Barbosa, M. J. & Wijffels, H, R.(2017). Botryococcus braunii strains compared for biomass productivity, hydrocarbon and carbohydrate content. Journal of Biotechnology, 248, 77-86.

Hirose, M., Mukaida, F., Okada, S. & Noguchi, T. (2013). Active hydrocarbon biosynthesis and accumulation in a green alga, Botryococcus braunii (Race A). Eukaryotic Cell, 12(8), 1132-1141.

Kawachi, M., Tanoi, T., Demura, M., Kaya, K. & Watanabe, M.M. (2012) Relationship between hydrocarbons and molecular phylogeny of Botryococcus braunii. Algal Research, 1, 114-119.

Iyer, G., Menon, S., Gupte, Y., Phadnis, S. & Pawar, Y. (2012). Morphological characteristics of Botryococcus braunii (Kutzing, 1849) & its hydrocarbon production, Mumbai, India. Asian Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Environmental Sciences, 14(4), 523-526.

Orpez, R., Martinez, M. E., Hodaifa, G., Yousfi, F. E., Jbari, N. & Sanchez, S. (2009). Growth of the microalga Botryococcus braunii in secondarily treated sewage. Desalination, 246(1-3), 625-630.

Ranga, R.A., Deepika, G., Ravishankar, A. G., Sarada, R., Panduranga, N. B., Su, Y., & Lei, B. (2017). Botryococcus as an alternative source of carotenoids and its possible applications – an overview. Critical Reviews in Biotechnology, 1-18.

Richard, K.T., Lux, T. M., Sambles, C. M., Kuhn, N. J., Petticrew, E. L., Oldfield, R., Parker, D. A., Hatton, J., Moore, K. A., Lee, R., Turney, C.S.M., Jones, R. T. & Love, J. (2019). Palaeogenomics of the hydrocarbons producing microalga Botryococcus braunii. Scientific Reports, 9,1776.

Schadewijk, R. V., Berg, T.E.V. D., Gupta, K. B. S. S., Ronen, I., Groot, H. J. M. and Alia, A. (2018). Non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging of oils in Botryococcus braunii green algae: Chemical shift selective and diffusion-weighted imaging. PLOS ONE, 13(8): e0203217.

Talukdar, J., Kalita, M.C., Goswami, B.C. and Hong, D. D. (2014). Liquid hydrocarbon production potential of a novel strain of the microalga Botryococcus braunii: Assessing the reliability of in Situ hydrocarbon recovery by wet process solvent extraction. Energy and Fuels, 28(6), 3747-3758.

Welss, T. L., Roth, R., Goodson, C., Vitha, S., Black, I., Azadi, P., Rusch, J., Holzenburg, A., Devarenne, T. & Goodenough, U. (2014). Colony organization in the green alga Botryococcus braunii (Race B) is specified by a complex extracellular matrix. Eukaryotic Cell, 11(12), 1424-1440.


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