MEPS 507:15-30 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10824

No detectable effect of CO2 on elemental stoichiometry of Emiliania huxleyi in nutrient-limited, acclimated continuous cultures

Anja Engel1,2,3,*, Carolina Cisternas Novoa3, Mascha Wurst2, Sonja Endres1,2, Tiantian Tang3,4, Markus Schartau1, Cindy Lee3

1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, 24105 Kiel, Germany
2Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
3Marine Sciences Research Center, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA
4Present address: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Effects of CO2 concentration on elemental composition of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi were studied in phosphorus-limited, continuous cultures that were acclimated to experimental conditions for 30 d prior to the first sampling. We determined phytoplankton and bacterial cell numbers, nutrients, particulate components like organic carbon (POC), inorganic carbon (PIC), nitrogen (PN), organic phosphorus (POP), transparent exopolymer particles (TEP), as well as dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen (DON), in addition to carbonate system parameters at CO2 levels of 180, 380 and 750 µatm. No significant difference between treatments was observed for any of the measured variables during repeated sampling over a 14 d period. We considered several factors that might lead to these results, i.e. light, nutrients, carbon overconsumption and transient versus steady-state growth. We suggest that the absence of a clear CO2 effect during this study does not necessarily imply the absence of an effect in nature. Instead, the sensitivity of the cell towards environmental stressors such as CO2 may vary depending on whether growth conditions are transient or sufficiently stable to allow for optimal allocation of energy and resources. We tested this idea on previously published data sets where PIC and POC divided by the corresponding cell abundance of E. huxleyi at various pCO2 levels and growth rates were available.


KEY WORDS: Acidification · Cocolithophores · Element composition · Nutrient limitation · Chemostats


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Cite this article as: Engel A, Cisternas Novoa C, Wurst M, Endres S, Tang T, Schartau M, Lee C (2014) No detectable effect of CO2 on elemental stoichiometry of Emiliania huxleyi in nutrient-limited, acclimated continuous cultures. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 507:15-30. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10824

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