Effects of cobalt on spore germination, gametophyte growth and development, and juvenile sporophyte growth of Saccharina japonica (Phaeophyceae)

  • Xuemei Wang
  • Tifeng ShanEmail author
  • Shaojun PangEmail author


Cobalt (Co), an essential element that is toxic in excess amounts, is a major component of wastewater that has accidentally been released from nuclear power plants. However, the effects of Co in seawater on the life cycle of macroalgae have seldom been investigated. Here, we tested the effects of different Co concentrations (1, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 μg L−1) on spore germination, gametophyte growth and development, and juvenile sporophyte growth of the brown alga Saccharina japonica. Sterilized natural seawater with a known Co concentration was used as the control. The spore germination percentage in the 1000 μg L−1 group was significantly reduced after 1 and 2 days of exposure. The gametophyte growth in the 1 μg L−1 group was significantly accelerated, while that of the ≥ 50 μg L−1 groups was significantly inhibited after 9 days of exposure. The relative growth rate and maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm) of photosystem II of the juvenile sporophytes in the 1 μg L−1 group were significantly higher, while those of the ≥ 10 μg L−1 groups were significantly lower after 2 weeks of exposure. By culturing the sporophytes in the control medium, Fv/Fm values recovered from Co stress within 4 days. These results highlight the potentially severe impact of accidentally released Co from nuclear power plants on the life cycle of S. japonica. Further studies should focus on the toxic mechanism of Co in S. japonica and the phytoremediation potential of seaweeds to alleviate Co pollution.


Radionuclide pollution Kelp Life cycle Relative growth rate Chlorophyll fluorescence 



We thank Natalie Kim, PhD, from Liwen Bianji, Edanz Editing China (, for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript. We are grateful to Suqin Gao and Cuimei Zhang for their assistance in algal culture in the laboratory.

Funding information

This research was supported by grants from the State’s Key Project of Research and Development Plan (2016YFC1402507), National Key Technology Support Program (2015BAD13B05), China Agriculture Research System (CARS-50), the Taishan Scholar Program of Shandong Province, and the Foundation for Huiquan Scholar of Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Supplementary material

10811_2019_1955_MOESM1_ESM.docx (43 kb)
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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Experimental Marine Biology, Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Center for Ocean Mega-ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Laboratory for Marine Biology and BiotechnologyQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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