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Light regulates inorganic nitrogen uptake and storage, but not nitrate assimilation, by the red macroalga Hemineura frondosa (Rhodophyta)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 18:17 authored by Ellie PaineEllie Paine, Matthias SchmidMatthias Schmid, Revill, AT, Catriona HurdCatriona Hurd

Macroalgal growth in temperate coastal ecosystems is primarily regulated by light and inorganic nitrogen availability. The effect of light (photon irradiance) on NO3 and NH4 + uptake, and NO3 assimilation, were studied in the red macroalga, Hemineura frondosa, which does not operate a carbon concentrating mechanism (non-CCM). Non-CCM macroalgae grow in low and high light environments but become increasingly dominant with depth, suggesting a mechanism for ‘preserving energy’ under low light levels. H. frondosa was acclimated to limiting (30 µmol photons m 2 s 1) and saturating (150 µmol photons m 2 s–1) irradiances for 8 days. Then, NO3 and NH4 + uptake rates were measured under limiting and saturating irradiances at six concentrations ranging from 2–64 μM. NO3 uptake did not follow saturating uptake kinetics at both irradiances suggesting multiple uptake mechanisms. NH4 + uptake saturated at concentrations <32 µM under limiting but not under saturating irradiance. Saturating irradiance resulted in greater maximum uptake rates of both NO3 and NH4 +. There was no evidence that irradiance regulated NO3 reduction by nitrate reductase. Also illustrated is the importance of measuring nitrate reductase activity on fresh material, as freezing in liquid nitrogen and storage at −80°C for 7 days caused a 65% decline in activity. Photosynthetic pigments, soluble tissue nitrogen and % total tissue nitrogen were all higher in limiting irradiance. In this first study of the nitrogen physiology of a non-CCM seaweed, we show that light regulates NO3 and NH4 + uptake but not NO3 assimilation.


Publication title

European Journal of Phycology








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Taylor & Francis Ltd

Place of publication

4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, England, Oxon, Ox14 4Rn

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Copyright 2020 British Phycological Society

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Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences

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