MEPS 334:63-71 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps334063

Growth limitation in marine red-tide dinoflagellates: effects of pH versus inorganic carbon availability

P. J. Hansen1,*, N. Lundholm1, B. Rost2

1Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark
2Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27515 Bremerhaven, Germany

ABSTRACT: The effects of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) on the growth of 3 red-tide dinoflagellates (Ceratium lineatum, Heterocapsa triquetra and Prorocentrum minimum) were studied at pH 8.0 and at higher pH levels, depending upon the pH tolerance of the individual species. The higher pH levels chosen for experiments were 8.55 for C. lineatum and 9.2 for the other 2 species. At pH 8.0, which approximates the pH found in the open sea, the maximum growth in all species was maintained until the total DIC concentration was reduced below ~0.4 and 0.2 mM for C. lineatum and the other 2 species, respectively. Growth compensation points (concentration of inorganic carbon needed for maintenance of cells) were reached at ~0.18 and 0.05 mM DIC for C. lineatum and the other 2 species, respectively. At higher pH levels, maximum growth rates were lower compared to growth at pH 8, even at very high DIC concentrations, indicating a direct pH effect on growth. Moreover, the concentration of bio-available inorganic carbon (CO2 + HCO3) required for maintenance as well as the half-saturation constants were increased considerably at high pH compared to pH 8.0. Experiments with pH-drift were carried out at initial concentrations of 2.4 and 1.2 mM DIC to test whether pH or DIC was the main limiting factor at a natural range of DIC. Independent of the initial DIC concentrations, growth rates were similar in both incubations until pH had increased considerably. The results of this study demonstrated that growth of the 3 species was mainly limited by pH, while inorganic carbon limitation played a minor role only at very high pH levels and low initial DIC concentrations.

KEY WORDS: pH · Growth limitation · Competition · Marine · Phytoplankton · Dissolved inorganic carbon · DIC

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