Stable carbon isotope fractionation by marine phytoplankton in response to daylength, growth rate, and CO2 availability
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Stable carbon isotope fractionation (%) of 7 marine phytoplankton species grown in different irradiance cycles was measured under nutrient-replete conditions at a high light intensity in batch cultures. Compared to experiments under continuous light, all species exhibited a significantly higher instantaneous growth rate (pi), defined as the rate of carbon fixation during the photoperiod, when cultivated at 12:12 h. 16:8 h, or 1 8 6 h light:dark (L/D) cycles. Isotopic fractionation by the
... ation by the diatoms Skeletonema costatum, Asterionella glacialis, Thalassiosira punctigera, and Coscinodiscus wailesii (Group I) was 4 to 6 % lower in a 16:8 h L/D cycle than under continuous light, which we attribute to differences in pi. In contrast, E, in Phaeodactylum tn'cornutum, Thalassiosira weissflogii, and in the dinoflagellate Scrippsiella trochoidea (Group 11) was largely insensitive to daylength-related differences in instantaneous growth rate. Since other studies have reported growth-rate dependent fractionation under N-limited conditions in P. tricornutum, pi-related effects on fractionation apparently depend on the factor controlling growth rate. We suggest that a general relationship between E, and pi/[C02",] may not exist. For 1 species of each group we tested the effect of variable CO2 concentration, [COz",], on isotopic fractionation. A decrease in [CO2",] from ca 26 to 3 pm01 kg-' caused a decrease in E, by less than 3%0 This indicates that variation in h in response to changes in daylength has a similar or even greater effect on isotopic fractionation than [COz",] m some of the species tested. In both groups E, tended to be higher in smaller species at comparable growth rates. In 24 and 48 h time series the algal cells became progressively enriched in 13C during the day and the first hours of the dark period, followed by l3C depletion in the 2 h before beginning of the following Light period. The daily amplitude of the algal isotopic composition (613C), however, was <1.5%0, which demonstrates that diurnal variation in Fl3C is relatively small.