Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 96, Issue 1, pp 37–52 | Cite as

The salt relations of marine and halophilic species of the unicellular green alga,Dunaliella

The role of glycerol as a compatible solute
  • Lesley Joyce Borowitzka
  • Austin Duncan Brown


  1. 1.

    Comparisons were made of the effects of salt on the exponential growth rates of two unicellular algae,Dunaliella tertiolecta (marine) andDunaliella viridis (halophilic).

  2. 2.

    The algae contained glycerol in amounts which varied directly with the salt concentration of the growth media. The highest measured glycerol content ofD. tertiolecta was approximately equivalent to 1.4 molal and occurred in algae grown in 1.36 M sodium chloride. The highest glycerol content measured inD. viridis was approximately equivalent to 4.4 molal and occurred in algae grown in 4.25 M sodium chloride. Lower concentrations of free glucose, which varied inversely with extracellular salt concentration, were also detected.

  3. 3.

    It is inferred that Na+ is effectively excluded from the two algae. There was some evidence of a moderate uptake of K+.

  4. 4.

    Comparisons were made of erude preparations of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and an NADP-specific glycerol dehydrogenase from each species and of the effects of salt and glycerol on the activities of these enzymes. It is concluded that the different salt tolerances of the two algae cannot be explained by generalized differences between their enzyme proteins.

  5. 5.

    Although intracellular glycerol must necessarily contribute to the osmotic status of the algae, its primary function in influencing their salt relations is considered to be that of a compatible solute, whereby glycerol maintains enzyme activity under conditions of high extracellular salt concentration and hence low (thermodynamic) water activity.



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesley Joyce Borowitzka
    • 1
  • Austin Duncan Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MicrobiologyUniversity of New South WalesKensington

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