Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 285–297 | Cite as

Response of Antarctic, temperate, and tropical microalgae to temperature stress

  • Ming-Li Teoh
  • Siew-Moi Phang
  • Wan-Loy Chu


The global temperature increase has significant implications on the survival of microalgae which form the basis of all aquatic food webs. The aim of this study was to compare the response of similar taxa of microalgae from the Antarctic (Chlamydomonas UMACC 229, Chlorella UMACC 237, and Navicula glaciei UMACC 231), temperate (Chlamydomonas augustae UMACC 247, Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 248, and Navicula incerta UMACC 249), and tropical (C. augustae UMACC 246, C. vulgaris UMACC 001, and Amphiprora UMACC 239) regions to changing temperature. The Antarctic, temperate, and tropical strains were grown over specific temperature ranges of 4 °C to 30 °C, 4 °C to 32 °C, and 13 °C to 38 °C, respectively. The three Antarctic strains survived at temperatures much higher than their ambient regime. In comparison, the tropical strains are already growing at their upper temperature limits. The three Chlorella strains from different regions are eurythermal, with a large overlap on tolerance ranging from 4 °C to 38 °C. The specific growth rate (μ) of the Antarctic Navicula decreased (<0.34 day−1) at temperatures above 4 °C, showing it to be sensitive to temperature increase. If further warming of Earth occurs, N. glaciei UMACC 231 is likely to have the most deleterious consequences than the other two Antarctic microalgae studied. The percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) decreased with increasing temperature in the Antarctic Navicula. As temperature increases, the growth and nutritional value of this commonly occurring diatom in the Antarctic may decrease, with consequences for the aquatic food web. Of the three Chlamydomonas strains, only the Antarctic strain produced predominantly PUFA, especially 16:3 (48.4–57.2 % total fatty acids).


Antarctic microalgae Temperature stress Chlamydomonas Chlorella Diatoms 



This study was funded by a research grant from the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI), Malaysia, coordinated by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM). The first author would like to thank MOSTI for the Pasca Postgraduate Fellowship. Thanks are also due to the berths offered by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) and the staff of Casey Station, Antarctica, for their field assistance in sample collection. This research formed part of the International Polar Year (IPY) Project (EOI No. 96) under the consortium project (IPY EOI 429) on Microbiological and Ecological Responses to Global Environmental Changes in Polar Regions (MERGE).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ocean & Earth SciencesUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  3. 3.International Medical UniversityKuala LumpurMalaysia

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