Physiological response of Crocosphaera watsonii to enhanced and fluctuating carbon dioxide conditions

We investigated the effects of elevated pCO2 on cultures of the unicellular N2-fixing cyanobacterium Crocosphaera watsonii WH8501. Using CO2-enriched air, cultures grown in batch mode under high light intensity were exposed to initial conditions approximating current atmospheric CO2 concentrations (~400 ppm) as well as CO2 levels corresponding to low- and high-end predictions for the year 2100 (~750 and 1000 ppm). Following acclimation to CO2 levels, the concentrations of particulate carbon (PC), particulate nitrogen (PN), and cells were measured over the diurnal cycle for a six-day period spanning exponential and early stationary growth phases. High rates of photosynthesis and respiration resulted in biologically induced pCO2 fluctuations in all treatments. Despite this observed pCO2 variability, and consistent with previous experiments conducted under stable pCO2 conditions, we observed that elevated mean pCO2 enhanced rates of PC production, PN production, and growth. During exponential growth phase, rates of PC and PN production increased by ~1.2- and ~1.5-fold in the mid- and high-CO2 treatments, respectively, when compared to the low-CO2 treatment. Elevated pCO2 also enhanced PC and PN production rates during early stationary growth phase. In all treatments, PC and PN cellular content displayed a strong diurnal rhythm, with particulate C:N molar ratios reaching a high of 22:1 in the light and a low of 5.5:1 in the dark. The pCO2 enhancement of metabolic rates persisted despite pCO2 variability, suggesting a consistent positive response of Crocosphaera to elevated and fluctuating pCO2 conditions.

Gradoville M. R., White A. E. & Letelier R. M., 2014. Physiological response of Crocosphaera watsonii to enhanced and fluctuating carbon dioxide conditions. PLoS ONE 9(10): e110660. Article.

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