Development of a continuous phytoplankton culture system for ocean acidification experiments

Around one third of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been absorbed by the oceans, causing changes in seawater pH and carbonate chemistry. These changes have the potential to affect phytoplankton, which are critically important for marine food webs and the global carbon cycle. However, our current knowledge of how phytoplankton will respond to these changes is limited to a few laboratory and mesocosm experiments. Long-term experiments are needed to determine the vulnerability of phytoplankton to enhanced pCO2. Maintaining phytoplankton cultures in exponential growth for extended periods of time is logistically difficult and labour intensive. Here we describe a continuous culture system that greatly reduces the time required to maintain phytoplankton cultures, and minimises variation in experimental pCO2 treatments over time. This system is simple, relatively cheap, flexible, and allows long-term experiments to be performed to further our understanding of chronic responses and adaptation by phytoplankton species to future ocean acidification.

Wynn-Edwards C., King  R., Kawaguchi S., Davidson A., Wright S., Nichols P. D. & Virtue P., 2014. Development of a continuous phytoplankton culture system for ocean acidification experiments. Water 6(6):1860-1872. Article.


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