Botryococcus braunii (Bb) is a green, pyramid shaped planktonic microalga of the order Chlorococcales (class Chlorophyceae) that is of potentially great importance in the field of biotechnology. Colonies held together by a lipid biofilm matrix can be found in temperate or tropical oligotrophic lakes and estuaries, and will bloom when in the presence of elevated levels of dissolved inorganic phosphorus. The species is notable for its ability to produce high amounts of hydrocarbons, especially oils in the form of Triterpenes, that are typically around 30-40 percent of their dry weight. Compared to other green algae species it has a relatively thick cell wall that is accumulated from previous cellular divisions; making extraction of cytoplasmic components rather difficult. Fortunately, much of the useful hydrocarbon oil is outside of the cell.
Chlorella is a genus of single-celled green algae, belonging to the phylum Chlorophyta. It is spherical in shape, about 2 to 10 μm in diameter, and is without flagella. Chlorella contains the green photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll-a and -b in its chloroplast. Through photosynthesis it multiplies rapidly requiring only carbon dioxide, water, sunlight, and a small amount of minerals to reproduce.