Evaluation of growth, primary productivity, nutritional composition, redox state, and antimicrobial activity of red seaweeds Gracilaria debilis and Gracilaria foliifera under pCO2-induced seawater acidification

Graphical abstract.


  • Seawater acidification improved primary productivity, pigments, and carbon storage.
  • No sign of oxidative stress under acidification
  • Improved antimicrobial activities in acidified samples
  • Possible benefits in the future high pCO2 conditions


The genus Gracilaria is an economically important group of seaweeds as several species are utilized for various products such as agar, used in medicines, human diets, and poultry feed. Hence, it is imperative to understand their response to predicted ocean acidification conditions. In the present work, we have evaluated the response of Gracilaria foliifera and Gracilaria debilis to carbon dioxide (pCO2) induced seawater acidification (pH 7.7) for two weeks in a controlled laboratory conditions. As a response variable, we have measured growth, productivity, redox state, primary and secondary metabolites, and mineral compositions. We found a general increase in the daily growth rate, primary productivity, and tissue chemical composition (such as pigments, soluble and insoluble sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids), but a decrease in the mineral contents under the acidified condition. Under acidification, there was a decrease in malondialdehyde. However, there were no significant changes in the total antioxidant capacity and a majority of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, except for an increase in tocopherols, ascorbate and glutathione-s-transferase in G. foliifera. These results indicate that elevated pCO2 will benefit the growth of the studied species. No sign of oxidative stress markers indicating the acclimatory response of these seaweeds towards lowered pH conditions. Besides, we also found increased antimicrobial activities of acidified samples against several of the tested food pathogens. Based on these observations, we suggest that Gracilaria spp. will be benefitted from the predicted future acidified ocean.

Vinuganesh A., Kumar A., Prakash S., Korany S. M., Alsherif E. A., Selim S. & AbdElgawad H., 2022. Evaluation of growth, primary productivity, nutritional composition, redox state, and antimicrobial activity of red seaweeds Gracilaria debilis and Gracilaria foliifera under pCO2-induced seawater acidification. Marine Pollution Bulletin 185 (part A): 114296. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.114296. Article.

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