Marine Biology

, 164:177 | Cite as

Tissue nitrogen status does not alter the physiological responses of Macrocystis pyrifera to ocean acidification

  • Pamela A. FernándezEmail author
  • Michael Y. Roleda
  • Pablo P. Leal
  • Christopher D. Hepburn
  • Catriona L. Hurd
Original paper


Evaluating the relative effects of local (e.g. eutrophication) and global (e.g. ocean acidification, OA) environmental change is important to predict how marine macroalgae might respond to future oceanic conditions. In this study, the effects of nitrate supply, and hence tissue nitrogen status, and OA on the N metabolism, growth and photosynthetic rates of the kelp Macrocystis pyrifera were examined. We hypothesized that (1) NO3 uptake and assimilation processes will depend on nitrate supply and (2) tissue N status modulates the physiological response of Macrocystis to OA. Macrocystis blades were grown for 3 days under replete or deplete NO3 concentrations. Thereafter, the NO3 replete and deplete blades were grown for 3 days under current and future pCO2/pH conditions, with NO3 enriched SW. After the initial pre-experimental incubation, total tissue N content, nitrate reductase (NR) activity and internal NO3 pools were reduced under low [NO3 ], while NO3 uptake rates increased. Initial tissue N status did not modulate the physiological response to OA. However, NO3 uptake rates and NR activity were enhanced under the OA treatment regardless of the initial tissue N status, suggesting that increases in [H+]/reduced pH might play a regulating role in the N metabolism of this species.



The authors would like to thank to R. Suárez Jimenez and D. Pritchard for their assistance in the field and laboratory. We are also thankful for the following research grants for supporting this study: BECAS CHILE-CONICYT for a Ph.D. scholarship assigned to P.A. Fernández and a grant from The Royal Society of New Zealand (Mardsen fund UOO0914) to C.L. Hurd.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the Chilean program for BECAS CHILE-CONICYT and for a Royal Society of New Zealand Mardsen grant (UOO0914).

Conflict of interest

Pamela A. Fernández declares that she has no conflict of interest. Michael Y. Roleda declares that he has no conflict of interest. Pablo P. Leal declares that he has no conflict of interest. Christopher D. Hepburn declares that he has no conflict of interest. Catriona L. Hurd declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela A. Fernández
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michael Y. Roleda
    • 1
    • 3
  • Pablo P. Leal
    • 4
  • Christopher D. Hepburn
    • 5
  • Catriona L. Hurd
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Centro i-mar, Universidad de Los LagosPuerto MonttChile
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy ResearchBodøNorway
  4. 4.Instituto de Fomento Pesquero (IFOP)Puerto MonttChile
  5. 5.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  6. 6.Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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