Response of microalgae to elevated CO2 and temperature: impact of climate change on freshwater ecosystems

Wei Li, Xiaoguang Xu, Megumu Fujibayashi, Qigui Niu, Nobuyuki Tanaka, Osamu Nishimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


To estimate the combined effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on microalgae, three typical and worldwide freshwater species, the green alga Scenedesmus acuminatus, the diatom Cyclotella meneghiniana, and the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa, as well as mixes of these three species were continuously cultured in controlled environment chambers with CO2 at 390 and 1000 ppm and temperatures of 20, 25, and 30 °C. CO2 and temperature significantly affected the production of microalgae. The cell productivity increased under elevated CO2 and temperature. Although the green alga dominated in the mixed culture within all CO2 and temperature conditions, rising temperature and CO2 intensified the competition of the cyanobacterium with other microalgae. CO2 affected the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) characteristics of the green alga and the cyanobacterium. Elevated CO2 induced the generation of humic substances in the EPS fractions of the green alga, the cyanobacterium, and the mixed culture. The extracellular carbohydrates of the diatom and the extracellular proteins of the cyanobacterium increased with elevated CO2 and temperature, while the extracellular carbohydrates and proteins of the green alga and the mixes increased under elevated CO2 and temperature. There were synergistic effects of CO2 and temperature on the productivity and the EPS of microalgae. Climate change related CO2 and temperature increases will promote autochthonous organic carbon production in aquatic ecosystems and facilitate the proliferation of cyanobacteria, which potentially changes the carbon cycling and undermines the functioning of ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19847-19860
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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