Carbon acquisition of bloom-forming marine phytoplankton

Rost, Björn, Ulf Riebesell, Steffen Burkhardt, Dieter Sültemeyer

Limnol. Oceanogr., 48(1), 2003, 55-67 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2003.48.1.0055

ABSTRACT: Carbon acquisition in relation to CO2 supply was investigated in three marine bloom-forming microalgae, the diatom Skeletonema costatum, the flagellate Phaeocystis globosa, and the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi. In vivo activities of extracellular (eCA) and intracellular (iCA) carbonic anhydrase activity, photosynthetic O2 evolution, CO2 and HCO uptake rates were measured by membrane inlet mass spectrometry in cells acclimated to pCO2 levels of 36, 180, 360, and 1,800 ppmv. Large differences were obtained between species both with regard to the efficiency and regulation of carbon acquisition. While eCA activity increased with decreasing CO2 concentration in S. costatum and P. globosa, consistently low values were obtained for E. huxleyi. No clear trends with pCO2 were observed in iCA activity for any of the species tested. Half saturation concentrations (K1/2) for photosynthetic O2 evolution, which were highest for E. huxleyi and lowest for S. costatum, generally decreased with decreasing CO2 concentration. In contrast, K1/2 values for P. globosa remained unaffected by pCO2 of the incubation. CO2 and HCO3- were taken up simultaneously by all species. The relative contribution of HCO3- to total carbon uptake generally increased with decreasing CO2, yet strongly differed between species. Whereas K1/2 for CO2 and HCO3- uptake was lowest at the lowest pCO2 for S. costatum and E. huxleyi, it did not change as a function of pCO2 in P. globosa. The observed taxon-specific differences in CO2 sensitivity, if representative for the natural environment, suggest that changes in CO2 availability may influence phytoplankton species succession and distribution. By modifying the relative contribution of different functional groups, e.g., diatomaceous versus calcareous phytoplankton, to the overall primary production this could potentially affect marine biogeochemical cycling and air-sea gas exchange.

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