The effects of elevated CO2 and ammonium levels in seawater on the physiology of Gracilariopsis chorda (Holmes) Ohmi

We examined the effects of ocean acidification (OA) and eutrophication on the physiology of a red alga, Gracilariopsis chorda, using specimens collected at Wando Island, Korea, in July of 2015. The samples were transported to a laboratory and placed on growth media for treatments involving low or high levels of ammonium (4 μM or 60 μM NH4+) and low or high pH (7.5 or 8.2). The control treatment used filtered seawater (pH 8.2 and 4 μM NH4+). All experiments were conducted at 20°C and under a lighting intensity of 80 μmol photons m-2 s-1, with or without an injection of CO2 (pH 7.5). In addition, we calculated rates of respiration under darkness, at a pH of 7.5 and 60 μM NH4+. Fluctuations in pH as well as the evolution of photosynthetic oxygen and NH4+ uptake rates were monitored for 6 h. The greatest increase in pH levels, from 7.50 to 8.65, occurred in response to 60 μM NH4+, whereas the largest decrease, from 7.50 to 7.42, was associated with elevated respiration rates. At a pH of 7.5, rates of oxygen evolution were higher (236% saturation) for samples treated with 60 μM NH4+ than for the control (121% saturation). Ammonium uptake was highest at pH 7.5 and 60 μM NH4+, with a rate of 0.526±0.002 μmol g-1 FW h-1, followed in order by the treatments of pH 8.2/60 μM NH4+, pH 7.5/4 μM NH4+, and the control (pH 8.2/4 μM NH4+). We speculated that the rates of photosynthesis and NH4+ uptake could be enhanced at a higher ammonium concentration and lower pH because CO2 concentrations were increased through greater photosynthetic activity. Therefore, these findings suggest that the physiology of G. chorda populations can be improved by the interaction of optimized CO2 concentrations and an adequate supply of essential nutrients such as ammonium.

Kang J. W. & Chung I. K., 2016. The effects of elevated CO2 and ammonium levels in seawater on the physiology of Gracilariopsis chorda (Holmes) Ohmi. Journal of Environmental Science International 25(4):473-481. Article.

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