Responses of carbonic anhydrases and Rubisco to abrupt CO2 changes of seawater in two marine diatoms

  • Xiaopeng Zeng
  • Peng Jin
  • Dinghui Zou
  • Yuxian Liu
  • Jianrong XiaEmail author
Research Article


Diatoms are experiencing striking fluctuations in seawater carbonate chemistry in the natural marine environment, especially in coastal seawaters. Here, we show that the diatoms Thalassiosira weissflogii and Phaeodactylum tricornutum, which utilize different carbon acquisition mechanisms, respond differently to short-term changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. Our results showed that T. weissflogii showed significantly higher photosynthetic oxygen evolution rates than that of P. tricornutum at low levels of CO2 or HCO3. This suggests that T. weissflogii had higher affinities for CO2 or HCO3 when their concentrations were not sufficient to support saturated growth and photosynthesis. While the activity of Rubisco in P. tricornutum positively correlated with carbonic anhydrases (CA), we observed negative relationship between Rubisco and CA activity in the diatom T. weissflogii. These contrasting physiological responses of diatoms with varied carbon acquisition mechanisms indicate different abilities to cope up with abrupt changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. We propose that the ability to respond to varying carbonate chemistry may act as one determinant of the diatom distributions and phytoplankton community structures.


Seawater carbonate chemistry Thalassiosira weissflogii Phaeodactylum tricornutum Carbonic anhydrases Rubisco Photosynthesis 


Author contributions

JRX and DHZ conceived and designed the study. XPZ performed the experiments. XPZ, PJ, and JRX analyzed and interpreted the data. PJ, XPZ, and JRX prepared the manuscript and all authors discussed and edited the manuscript.

Funding information

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos: 41376156, 40976078) and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (No: S2012010009853).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaopeng Zeng
    • 1
  • Peng Jin
    • 2
  • Dinghui Zou
    • 1
  • Yuxian Liu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jianrong Xia
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Environment and EnergySouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringGuangzhou UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Linköping University – Guangzhou University Research Centre on Urban Sustainable DevelopmentGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.Guangzhou Higher Education Mega CenterGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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