Nutrient induced fluorescence transients (NIFTs) provide a rapid measure of P and C (co-)limitation in a green alga

Elly Spijkerman, Slobodanka Stojkovic, Daryl Holland, Sabrina C Lachmann, John Beardall

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Nutrient Induced Fluorescence Transients (NIFTs) have been shown to be a possible way of testing for the limiting nutrient in algal populations. In this study we tested the hypothesis that NIFTs can be used to detect a (co-)limitation for inorganic phosphorus (Pi) and CO2 in the green alga Chlamydomonas acidophila and that the magnitude of the NIFTs can be related to cellular P:C ratios. We show a co-limitation response for Pi and CO2 via traditional nutrient enrichment experiments in natural phytoplankton populations dominated by C. acidophila. We measured NIFT responses after a Pi- or a CO2-spike in C. acidophila batch cultures at various stages of Pi and inorganic C limitation. Significant NIFTs were observed in response to spikes in both nutrients. The NIFT response to a Pi-spike showed a strong negative correlation with cellular P:C ratio that was pronounced below 3 mmol P: mol C (equivalent to 0.2 pg P cell–1). Both cellular P and C content influenced the extent of the Pi-NIFT response. The NIFT response to a CO2-spike correlated to low CO2 culturing conditions and also had a negative correlation with cellular P content. A secondary response within the Pi-NIFT response was related to the CO2 concentration and potentially reflected co-limitation. In conclusion, NIFTs provided a quick and reliable method to detect the growth-limiting nutrient in an extremophile green alga, under Pi-, CO2- and Pi/CO2 (co-)limited growth conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Phycology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • acidophile
  • Chlamydomonas
  • CO2 concentrating mechanism
  • CO2 limitation
  • extremophile
  • nutrient limitation
  • photosynthesis response
  • phytoplankton
  • stoichiometry

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