Comparative Studies on the Ecophysiological Differences of Two Green Tide Macroalgae under Controlled Laboratory Conditions
by Ying Wang, You Wang, Lin Zhu, Bin Zhou, Xuexi Tang
Yellow Sea green tides have occurred in coastal China almost every year from 2007 to 2011. Ulva prolifera (Müller) J. Agardh has been identified as the causative macroalgal species. U. intestinalis, however, has been observed in the bloom areas, co-occurring with U. prolifera, but it has not been found to be causative. The Yellow Sea green tide has shown consistent phases of development that match corresponding environmental changes. U. prolifera, not U. intestinalis, is dominant. Our experimental design was based on these observed phenomena, and the results of our field investigation indicated a close relationship between changes in principal environmental factors (irradiance, temperature, and salinity) and the development of each phase of the bloom. These main environmental factors were simulated to allow estimation and comparison of the physiological responses of U. prolifera and U. intestinalis. Ecophysiological differences were found between these two species. (1) More photosynthetic activity and plasticity were detected in U. prolifera. (2) U. prolifera was found to be more sensitive to dynamic environments, especially harsh and changing environmental conditions. U. intestinalis was found to be more stable, probably due to the higher stress tolerance given by its antioxidant system. (3) Markedly higher nutrient absorption activity was observed in U. prolifera. Comparisons of the ecophysiological traits of these two species in this present study may foster understanding of their natural ecological processes. Specifically, U. prolifera seemed to be more engaged with the ephemeral blooms, while U. intestinalis seemed to be directed toward persistence. This also suggests that the ecological success of U. prolifera may be inextricably linked to its higher capacity for photosynthesis, nutrient absorption, and nutrient assimilation.
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