Photosynthetic use of inorganic carbon in deep-water kelps from the Strait of Gibraltar

Mechanisms of inorganic carbon assimilation were investigated in the four deep-water kelps inhabiting sea bottoms at the Strait of Gibraltar; these species are distributed at different depths (Saccorhiza polysiches at shallower waters, followed by Laminaria ochroleuca, then Phyllariopsis brevipes and, at the deepest bottoms, Phyllariopsis purpurascens). To elucidate the capacity to use HCO3 − as a source of inorganic carbon for photosynthesis in the kelps, different experimental approaches were used. Specifically, we measured the irradiance-saturated gross photosynthetic rate versus pH at a constant dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration of 2 mM, the irradiance-saturated apparent photosynthesis (APS) rate versus DIC, the total and the extracellular carbonic anhydrase (CAext), the observed and the theoretical photosynthetic rates supported by the spontaneous dehydration of HCO3 − to CO2, and the δ13C signature in tissues of the algae. While S. polyschides and L. ochroleuca showed photosynthetic activity at pH 9.5 (around 1.0 µmol O2 m−2 s−1), the activity was close to zero in both species of Phyllariopsis. The APS versus DIC was almost saturated for the DIC values of natural seawater (2 mM) in S. polyschides and L. ochroleuca, but the relationship was linear in P. brevipes and P. purpurascens. The four species showed total and CAext activities but the inhibition of the CAext originated the observed photosynthetic rates at pH 8.0 to be similar to the theoretical rates that could be supported by the spontaneous dehydration of HCO3 −. The isotopic 13C signatures ranged from −17.40 ± 1.81 to −21.11 ± 1.73 ‰ in the four species. Additionally, the δ13C signature was also measured in the deep-water Laminaria rodriguezii growing at 60–80 m, showing even a more negative value of −26.49 ± 1.25 ‰. All these results suggest that the four kelps can use HCO3 − as external carbon source for photosynthesis mainly by the action of external CAext, but they also suggest that the species inhabiting shallower waters show a higher capacity than the smaller kelps living in deeper waters. In fact, the photosynthesis in the two Phyllariopsis species could be accomplished by the spontaneous dehydration of HCO3 − to CO2. These differences in the capacity to use HCO3 − in photosynthesis among species could be important considering the increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 predicted for the near future.

García-Sánchez M. J., Delgado-Huertas A., Fernández J. A. & Flores-Moya A., in press. Photosynthetic use of inorganic carbon in deep-water kelps from the Strait of Gibraltar. Photosynthesis Research. Article (subscription required).

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