Increased light availability modulates carbon and nitrogen accumulation in the macroalga Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (Rhodophyta) in response to ocean acidification

Highlights

  • The effects of light and elevated pCO2 on Gracilariopsis were examined.
  • Ocean acidification enhanced algal biomass, photosynthesis and total C/N ratios.
  • Increasing light and elevated pCO2 lowered nutritional quality of G. lemaneiformis.

Abstract

The economically important red macroalga Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis has demonstrated positive ecological functions in nutrient bioextraction efficiency and high harvestable biomass, as well as being a food and agar source owing to its richness in proteins and polysaccharides. Carbon dioxide (CO2)-induced ocean acidification has resulted in mixed nutrient compound accumulations in this marine autotroph. G. lemaneiformis also experiences light variations resulting from self-shading and varied cultivation depths. Therefore, a factorial coupling experiment was conducted to examine how growth, photosynthesis performance, soluble cell components and metabolic enzyme-driven activities respond to light availability changes and CO2 enrichment. The ocean acidification enhanced the growth characteristics, total carbon/nitrogen ratios and metabolic nutrient accumulation processes in G. lemaneiformis regardless of the light level. Photosynthetic performances, including relative electron transport rate and maximum photochemical quantum yield, were increased by high pCO2 concentrations, resulting in soluble carbohydrate accumulation. The carbon and nitrogen accumulations might result from variations in carbonic anhydrase and nitrate reductase activities under high pCO2 conditions. The soluble protein and free amino acids contents declined in response to CO2 elevation, and this effect was more pronounced as the light intensity increased. Thus, future climate changes may cause greater algal biomass accumulations, but they may negatively affect the cell composition and nutritional quality of G. lemaneiformis.

Wei Z., Zhang Y., Yang F., Liang J. & Long L., in press. Increased light availability modulates carbon and nitrogen accumulation in the macroalga Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (Rhodophyta) in response to ocean acidification. Environmental and Experimental Botany. Article (subscription required).


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