Microalgae play an important role in the marine ecosystem. They are primary producers and form the base of the aquatic food web. The effects and changes that occur to microalgae are expected to have influences on the higher tropic levels. One major factor that influences growth of microalgae is the availability of nutrients. Availability of nutrients is highly affected by seasonality- short term climate changes. Previous research suggested that green algae and diatoms appear to have different acclimation strategies to nutrient limitations. This study focused on determining what some of those different acclimation strategies are. The diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and the green algae Dunaliella tertiolecta were grown at different nutrient limited rates in continuous culture chemostats and observed from inoculation to steady state. At steady state, both “fast growing” T. pseudonana and D. tertiolecta showed similar acclimation strategies for chlorophyll and lipid body production; specifically, an increase in nutrient availability caused an increase in chlorophyll and lipid body production. “Slow growing” T. pseudonana and D. tertiolecta showed the same acclimation strategy for chlorophyll; namely, less nutrient availability decreased chlorophyll production. However, “slow growing” T. pseudonana and D. tertiolecta showed different acclimation strategies for lipid body production. In “slow growing” D. tertiolecta, lipid body content was very low while lipid body content was significantly greater than any of the other cells and treatments in T. pseudonana. These results may reflect the phenomenon known as the “Bloom and bust” growth pattern of T. pseudonana. These results also help better understand physiological response of microalgae to nutrient conditions. Some physiological acclimation strategies are shared while other metabolic pathways are regulated very differently between microalgal species.
Key Words: Microalgae, phytoplankton, diatoms, nutrient limitation, green algae
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