, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 439-447

Effects of salinity on the growth rate, carrageenan yield, and cellular structure of Kappaphycus alvarezii (Rhodophyta, Gigartinales) cultured in vitro

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Abstract

Kappaphycus alvarezii was cultured in vitro under salinities ranging from 15 to 55 psu for 35 days to determine the differential effect on growth rate, carrageenan yield, and cellular structure. Plants kept in 15 psu died after 3 days, while plants cultured in 55 psu presented low growth rates during the entire experimental period (0.28% day−1). Plants cultured in 25, 35, and 45 psu showed growth rates normally associated with this species (between 3% and 4% day−1) and similar cellular morphology. Carrageenan yield was significantly higher in plants cultured in 25 psu in relation to the other treatments. As observed by light microscopy, plants cultured in 15 psu showed cellular turgidity and increased cell wall thickness, both consequences of hyposalinity. Chloroplasts and other membranous organelles underwent rupture and considerable disorganization in ultrastructure. Although branches from the 55 psu samples showed plasmolysis, cells were able to maintain chloroplast integrity, despite their rudimentary features. In high salinities, great concentrations of floridean starch grains were observed in subcortical cells, indicating their probable participation in osmoregulation. Based on these results, we defined the range of 25 to 45 psu as the limits of saline tolerance for K. alvarezii. While new field studies are required to confirm these results, it can be concluded that new sites, such as inactive or abandoned shrimp tanks with salinities up to 25 psu, could be considered for commercial farming.