Marine Biology

, 166:123 | Cite as

Role of thermal photosynthetic plasticity in the dispersal and settlement of two global green tide formers: Ulva pertusa and U. ohnoi

  • Marianela ZanollaEmail author
  • Raquel Carmona
  • Hiroshi Kawai
  • Dagmar B. Stengel
  • María Altamirano
Original Paper


The green invasive macroalgae Ulva ohnoi and U. pertusa are known for their capacity to form green tides across many geographic regions. Given their global ecological and economic impact, photosynthetic responses of both Ulva spp. were tested in laboratory experiments using short-term (3 h, and 5 h) exposure to different temperatures (27–36 °C) and light regimes, simulating light deprivation during ballast water transport conditions. Heat treatment of ship’s ballast water has been widely advocated as a possible treatment to prevent biological contamination. In addition, the physiological performance of U. ohnoi was assessed in long-term experiments (14 days). We examined several photosynthetic parameters and physiological variables such as growth and pigment content as a measure of physiological fitness. Both species maintained stable values of Fv/Fm over several hours across temperatures, although Ulva ohnoi presented higher values of Fv/Fm, photosynthetic efficiency and NPQmax than U. pertusa, and activated dissipative protective mechanisms earlier. In the long-term experiment, U. ohnoi died by the 4th day at 36 °C. In surviving samples, Fv/Fm increased by day 7, regardless of temperature and decreased by day 14; lower values pertained to 34 °C. Photosynthetic efficiency of U. ohnoi decreased after 1 week at 27 and 29 °C, but at 31 and 34 °C, an increase was recorded after 7 days. The highest rETRmax was recorded at 29 °C, while growth optimum occurred at 27–31℃. We postulate that short-term thermal stress affects dispersal risk, which may also explain the seasonal replacement of the two Ulva spp. in Japan; and that U. ohnoi has a higher thermal tolerance that allows its settlement in new areas, resulting in a wide distributional range. Its physiological performance under the temperatures tested suggests that U. ohnoi may pose a greater risk of dispersal and settlement than U. pertusa.



This project was funded by the projects CGL2008/01549/BOS (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain), P09-RNM-5187 (Consejería de Innovación, Ciencia y Empresa, Junta de Andalucía, Spain) and the Plan Propio of the University of Malaga (Spain). M. Zanolla would like to thank Ms. Tomoko Kotani for her help during experiments.


This project was funded by the projects CGL2008/01549/BOS (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain), P09-RNM-5187 (Consejería de Innovación, Ciencia y Empresa, Junta de Andalucía, Spain) and the Plan Propio of the University of Malaga (Spain).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author Marianela Zanolla declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Raquel Carmona declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Hiroshi Kawai declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author Dagmar Stengel declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Maria Altamirano declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

227_2019_3578_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (359 kb)
Supp Fig. 1 Relative electron transport rate (rETR)-irradiance curves in U. ohnoi at experimental temperatures at the beginning (t = 0), after 1 week (t = 7) and at the end (t = 14) of the long-term (14 d) exposure experiment. Data are presented as mean ± SD (n = 7) (PDF 359 kb)
227_2019_3578_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (300 kb)
Supp Fig. 2 Saturation parameter of photosynthesis (Ik) calculated for U. ohnoi and U. pertusa after 3 and 5 h of thermal and light/dark treatment. Data are presented as mean ± SD (n = 5) (PDF 299 kb)
227_2019_3578_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (629 kb)
Supp Table 1 Univariate ANOVA tests derived from the different MANOVA tests shown in Table 1. Significant values (p < 0.0083) are highlighted in bold (see M & M) (PDF 629 kb)
227_2019_3578_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (477 kb)
Supp Table 2 Effect of temperature (27, 29, 31, 34 and 36º C) on the maximum non-photochemical quenching NPQmax (relative units) calculated from NPQ versus EPAR curves from short-term (3 h, 5 h, light and dark conditions) and long-term (14 days) experiments for Ulva ohnoi (a) and U. pertusa (b). qP model fit data (relative units) derived from the model fit of qP versus EPAR curves (see Materials and methods section) are displayed for all experiments conducted in U. ohnoi (c) and U. pertusa (d). Data are mean values (± SD) (n = 5-7) (PDF 477 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Botany and Plant Science, School of Natural SciencesNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología y Geología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain
  3. 3.Kobe University Research Center for Inland SeasKobeJapan
  4. 4.Departamento de Botánica y Fisiología Vegetal, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain

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