Biotransformation and bioconcentration of steroid estrogens by Chlorella vulgaris

Ka Man Lai, M. D. Scrimshaw, J. N. Lester*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


The biotransformation and bioconcentration of natural and synthetic steroid estrogens by Chlorella vulgaris were investigated by using batch-shaking experiments with incubation for 48 h in the light or dark. Estradiol and estrone were interconvertible in both light and dark conditions; however, this biotransformation showed a preference for estrone. In the light, 50% estradiol was further metabolized to an unknown product. Apart from biotransformation, estrone, as well as hydroxyestrone, estriol, and ethinylestradiol, was relatively stable in the algal culture, whereas estradiol valerate was hydrolyzed to estradiol and then to estrone within 3 h of incubation. All of the tested estrogens exhibited a degree of partitioning to C. vulgaris; however, the concentrations of estriol, hydroxyestrone, ethinylestradiol, and estradiol valerate were always below the quantification limits. For estradiol and estrone, the partitioning of these estrogens in the algal extracts to the filtrates was <6% of the total amount present. The average concentration factor for estrone was ca. 27; however, the concentration factor for estradiol was not reported since no equilibrium was reached between the aqueous solution and that within the cells due to continuing biotransformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-864
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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