MEPS 234:111-118 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps234111

Nitrate and phosphate uptake characteristics of three species of brown algae cultured at low salinity

Francisco J. L. Gordillo*, Matthew J. Dring, Graham Savidge

Queen¹s University Marine Laboratory, The Strand, Portaferry, Co. Down, BT22 1PF, United Kingdom
*Present address: Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, Campus Teatinos, 29071 Málaga, Spain. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Nitrate and phosphate uptake mechanisms have been characterised under conditions of 100 and 50% seawater in 3 common brown algae of NW Europe: Fucus vesiculosus, F. serratus and Laminaria digitata. Under low salinity, the growth rate and internal nitrate accumulation of F. serratus significantly increased (20 and 48%, respectively), but no significant changes were observed for F. vesiculosus and L. digitata. However, nitrate uptake rates were reduced in L. digitata, so that this species was less adaptable to low salinity than the Fucus species. Both F. vesiculosus and F. serratus reached a steady-state uptake rate after acclimation regardless of the salinity treatment. All 3 species had a high capacity for storing inorganic N and P intracellularly. The results for F. serratus pointed to a dual mechanism of adaptation to the special characteristics of the intertidal environment where it grows. Non-saturating (low affinity) nitrate uptake and biphasic (double Michaelis-Menten curve) phosphate uptake are adaptations to high nutrient concentrations. Temporal partition of cellular energy for carbon metabolism and nutrient uptake is also suggested as an adaptation to the transient nutrient inputs occurring in these environments.


KEY WORDS: Salinity · Nitrate · Phosphate · Uptake · Intertidal environment · Photoperiod · Fucus serratus · Fucus vesiculosus · Laminaria digitata


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