The response of nutrient assimilation and biochemical composition of Arctic seaweeds to a nutrient input in summer

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Abstract

Twenty-one species of macroalgae (four Chlorophyta, eight Rhodophyta, and nine Phaeophyta) from the Kongsfjord (Norwegian Arctic) were examined for their response to nutrient enrichment (nitrate and phosphate) in the summer period. The enzymatic activities related to nutrient assimilation, external carbonic anhydrase (CAext, EC 4.2.1.1), nitrate reductase (NR, EC 1.6.6.1), and alkaline phosphatase (AP, EC 3.1.3.1), as well as the biochemical composition (total C and N, soluble carbohydrates, soluble proteins, and pigments) were measured. CAext activity was present in all species, and showed a general decrease after nutrient enrichment. Inversely, NR activity increased in most of the species examined. Changes in pigment ratios pointed to the implication of light harvesting system in the acclimation strategy. Despite enzymatic and pigmentary response, the Arctic seaweeds can be regarded as not being N-limited even in summer, as shown by the slight effect of nutrient enrichment on biochemical composition. The exception being the nitrophilic species Monostroma arcticum and, to a lesser extent, Acrosiphonia sp. For the rest of the species studied, changes in total internal C and N, soluble proteins, soluble carbohydrates, pigment content, and the internal pool of inorganic N were recorded only for particular species and no general pattern was shown. Acclimation to unexpected nutrient input seemed to ensure the maintenance of a stable biomass composition, rather than an optimized use of the newly available resource (except for the nitrophilic species). This indicates a high degree of resilience of the algal community to a disruption in the natural nutrient availability pattern.

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