Carbon and nitrogen accumulation and interspecific competition in two algae species, Pyropia haitanensis and Ulva lactuca, under ocean acidification conditions

If the atmospheric CO2 continues to increase as predicted, Pyropia haitanensis would experience the coupled effects of ocean acidification (OA) and interference from the epiphyte alga Ulva lactuca. In the current study, we evaluated the carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) accumulation in P. haitanensis and U. lactuca under OA conditions, as well as the interspecific competition between these two algae. We found that, under mono-culture conditions, OA significantly enhanced the growth of both P. haitanensis and U. lactuca and markedly increased the soluble carbohydrate (SC) content and C/N ratios in P. haitanensis, but reduced its soluble proteins (SP) content. In U. lactuca, OA reduced its SP content, but increased C/N ratios, while its SC content was not significantly affected. Under biculture conditions, the rapid growth of U. lactuca and its comparatively more efficient use of nutrients resulted in insufficient available N sources for P. haitanensis. Biculture with U. lactuca increased SC but declined SP content. This also resulted in some membrane injuries that were indicated by increased malondialdehyde (MDA) content and depressed growth in P. haitanensis. Biculture with U. lactuca was disadvantageous for carbon and nitrogen accumulation in P. haitanensis. The results demonstrated that under conditions of OA, the negative effects caused by the epiphyte U. lactuca were more pronounced. If the CO2 levels rise as predicted, Ulva algae would severely interfere with maricultivation of P. haitanensis.

Chen B., Lin L., Ma Z., Zhang T., Chen W. & Zou D., in press. Carbon and nitrogen accumulation and interspecific competition in two algae species, Pyropia haitanensis and Ulva lactuca, under ocean acidification conditions. Aquaculture International. Article (subscription required).

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