Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 3075–3087 | Cite as

Measurement of chlorophylls a and b and bacteriochlorophyll a in organisms from hypereutrophic auxinic waters

  • Raymond J. RitchieEmail author
8th Asian Pacific Phycological Forum


Sewage lagoons and wastewater ponds from industrialised swine and poultry farms are typically hypereutrophic, auxinic and dominated by purple non-sulphur bacteria and unicellular green algae both typically growing photoheterotrophically. To manage such ponds, it is essential to know the balance between oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis. Typical spectrophotometric algorithms to estimate chlorophyll use 750 nm as a zero (A750 nm) but a 750 nm zero protocol is unsuitable where substantial amounts of bacteriochlorophylls are present. Algorithms were developed to estimate chlorophylls a and b (Chl a and Chl b) and bacteriochlorophyll a (BChl a) in solvent in ethanol, 7:2 acetone/ethanol and 90% acetone. The algorithms use an 850-nm absorbance zero (A850 nm) well outside the absorbance ranges of both chlorophylls and bacteriochlorophylls in solvent. There are many habitats where the presence of anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria is unsuspected and so using a routine A750 nm zero effectively masks their presence and leads to underestimations of Chl a and Chl b. The in-solvent red peak of bacteriochlorophyll c is too close to that of Chl a for BChl c and Chl a to be resolved spectroscopically, but its presence can be easily identified from in vivo scans. The spectroscopic advantage of 90% acetone is negated by its poor quantitative extraction of pigments. Acetone/ethanol (7:2) is an excellent solvent spectroscopically and as an extractant.


Absorbance Anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria Oxygenic photosynthesis Bacteriochlorophyll Chlorophyll Algorithms 



The author wishes to thank Prince Songkla University—Phuket for providing facilities for the project. The co-operation of Phuket Integrated Waste Management (Wichit Sub-district, Mueang Phuket, District, Phuket 83000, Thailand) in encouraging this study and allowing us to collect sewage pond water samples is gratefully acknowledged. My Masters student, Piamsook Chandaravithoon assisted me in collecting the sewage pond samples. The author would like to give special thanks to Dr. Robert J Porra (CSIRO, Plant Industry, Canberra) for his valuable comments on the manuscript. Some of the data presented here was used as part of an oral presentation (Chandaravithoon et al. 2017: Photosynthesis in a sewage pond) at the recent 8th Asian Pacific Phycological Forum at the Pullman Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 8–13 October 2017 (CS-12-2).

Funding information

The project was partially funded by the Faculty of Technology and Environmental Science, Prince Songkla University-Phuket.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tropical Environmental Plant Biology Unit, Faculty of Technology and EnvironmentPrince of Songkla University—Phuket CampusPhuketThailand

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