Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Sean E. Shaheen


Anabaena, Atomic Force Microscopy, Cell Membrane Characterization, Mathematical Modeling, Photobioreactor, Tetraselmis


One growing field in alternative energy is biofuel production through microorganisms. This field of research includes hydrogen and biofuel production through the cultivation of algae. In this work, we have selected two different algae to study, Anabaena sp. cpcc 387 and Tetraselmis. Through mathematical modeling of Anabaena we investigated the complex multicellular relationships and colony stability when noise is introduced. We developed a mathematical model using a system of differential equations that simulates the population growth through optical density over time of Anabaena. When the model was compared to experimental data obtained through growing Anabaena in a photobioreactor, we found a strong linear correlation of 0.98 suggesting that the model reasonably simulates the lag, exponential and stationary phase. As a result, the model may be used to study the effects of varying different parameters in Anabaena's environment in order to predict what effect it will have on colony growth pattern and population.

In conjunction with researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, we characterize Tetraselmis cells' membrane elasticity. Through use of an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), varying forces were applied to the cell membrane that was used to find the modulus of elasticity to be 79.8 KPa ± 19.8 and 46.9 KPa ± 2.04 for two different

cells tested. Having found the modulus of two cells is the starting point for collecting more data on this strain and other strains along with various other pretreatments. This will allow for cross comparisons between cell membrane strength and give quantitative evidence for which strain and pretreatment yield the weakest cell membrane to allow to lipid extraction.


Recieved from ProQuest

Rights holder

Antonio Nava

File size

40 p.

File format





Physics, Biophysics