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Implications of salinity fluctuations for growth and nitrogen metabolism of the marine diatom ditylum brightwellii in comparison with skeletonema costatum



Implications of salinity fluctuations for growth and nitrogen metabolism of the marine diatom ditylum brightwellii in comparison with skeletonema costatum



Marine Biology (Berlin) 101(1): 131-141



In 1987 effects of salinity fluctuations on growth on Ditylum brightwelli (West) Grunow, isolated from the Eastern Scheldt estuary (SW Netherlands) in 1981, were studied. D. brightwellii was grown in a 12 h light:dark cycle at constant salinity in brackish media. Ammonium-limited cultures were subjected to a salinity fluctuation. By decreasing the salinity to 4.8.permill. photosynthesis and cell division were inhibited; cells were deformed. Protein and carbohydrate contents increased slightly, dark respiration was stimulated and cellular levels of glucose decreased at low salinity; this indicated a possible role of sugars in osmoregulation. Ammonium was accumulated in cultures, amino acids may have been stored; the role of the vacuole as a storage compartment was discussed. Both the ammonium uptake capacity and the affinity for ammonium decreased. Nitrogen limitation was relieved in the transient state. [With the activity of the nitrogen assimilation enyzmes glutamine synthetase (GS) and glutamate synthase (GOGAT) being uninhibited by lower salinity.] Recovery from hypo-osmotic stress during a salinity increase was initiated by stimulated photosynthesis; chlorophyll a increased but persistant contractions of cytoplasm (with chloroplasts) may have delayed cell growth. The glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) activity decreased further whereas the cellular level of alanine increased in the presence of large ammonium pools; this may indicate a temporary activity of ADH (alanine dehydrogenase). Skeletonema costatum (Greville) Cleve, recovered faster from hypoosmotic stress than did D. brightwellii. Due to an osmotic shock from 13.6 to 7.1.permill. S both species excreted amino acids and glucose: S. costatum accumulated more glucose, D. brightwellii accumulated more amino acids. S. costatum may win the competition for nitrogen in waters with an unstable salinity; it will replace D. brightwellii.

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