, Volume 766, Issue 1, pp 215–223 | Cite as

Response of Vallisneria spinulosa (Hydrocharitaceae) to contrasting nitrogen loadings in controlled lake mesocosms

  • Suting Zhao
  • Liyan Yin
  • Fengyi Chang
  • Saara Olsen
  • Martin Søndergaard
  • Erik Jeppesen
  • Wei Li
Primary Research Paper


The role of nitrogen (N) in the shift from a macrophyte-dominated state to a phytoplankton-dominated one at high N concentrations in shallow lakes is still debated. To elucidate possible toxic and ecological effects of high N on macrophyte growth, we conducted a short-term (40 day) study of a eutrophication-tolerant macrophyte, Vallisneria spinulosa (Hydrocharitaceae), incubated in pots in a mesocosm system subjected to different N concentrations (1, 3, and 5 mg l−1). Plant leaf and root length as well as growth rate decreased significantly with increased N concentrations, but most N- and P-related physiological parameters, including the soluble protein content, nitrate reductase activity, acid phosphatase activity, and tissue N and P contents, did not differ significantly among the N treatments. Only the alkaline phosphatase activity differed, being lower at high nitrogen loading, likely due to P limitation. Epiphyton and phytoplankton biomasses increased significantly with increasing N loading. Our results including a large number of physiological tests of the macrophytes, therefore, provide supporting evidence that the loss of submerged macrophytes, like V. spinulosa, seen at high N loading in shallow lakes, can be attributed to competition with phytoplankton and epiphyton rather than to toxic effects.


Epiphyton Nitrogen Physiology Phytoplankton Submerged macrophyte 

Supplementary material

10750_2015_2456_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Aquatic Plant Biology, Wuhan Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Hainan Key Laboratory for Sustainable Utilization of Tropical BioresourcesHainan UniversityHaikouChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversitySilkeborgDenmark
  5. 5.Sino-Danish Center for Education and Research (SDC)University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Hubei Key Laboratory of Wetland Evolution & Ecological Restoration, Wuhan Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina

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