Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 931–941 | Cite as

Phycoremediation potential, physiological, and biochemical response of Amphora subtropica and Dunaliella sp. to nickel pollution

  • Ines Dahmen-Ben MoussaEmail author
  • Khaled Athmouni
  • Haifa Chtourou
  • Habib Ayadi
  • Sami Sayadi
  • Abdelhafidh Dhouib


Metal pollution can produce many biological effects on aquatic environments. The marine diatom Amphora subtropica and the green alga Dunaliella sp. possess a high metal absorption capacity. Nickel (Ni) removal by living cells of A. subtropica and Dunaliella sp. was tested in cultures exposed to different Ni concentrations (100, 200, 300, and 500 mg L−1). The amount of Ni removed by the microalgae increased with the time of exposure and the initial Ni concentration in the medium. The metal, which was mainly removed by bioadsorption to Dunaliella sp. cell surfaces (93.63% of total Ni (for 500 mg Ni L−1) and by bioaccumulation (80.82% of total Ni (for 300 mg Ni L−1) into Amphora subtropica cells, also inhibited growth. Exposure to Ni drastically reduced the carbohydrate and protein concentrations and increased total lipids from 6.3 to 43.1 pg cell−1, phenolics 0.092 to 0.257 mg GAE g−1 (Fw), and carotenoid content, from 0.08 to 0.59 mg g−1 (Fw), in A. subtropica. In Dunaliella sp., total lipids increased from 26.1 to 65.3 pg cell−1, phenolics from 0.084 to 0.289 mg GAE g−1 (Fw), and carotenoid content from 0.41 to 0.97 mg g−1 (Fw). These compounds had an important role in protecting the algae against ROS generated by Ni. In order to cope with Ni stress shown by the increase of TBARS level, enzymatic (SOD, CAT, and GPx) ROS scavenging mechanisms were induced.


Amphora subtropica Dunaliella sp. Nickel removal Biochemical composition Stress biomarkers 



This study was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Tunisia under Contract Program of the Environmental Bioprocesses Laboratory.

Authors’ contributions

IDB designed and performed the experiments, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper. KA and HC participated in the design and execution of the experiments. HA, SS, and AD critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Environmental Bioprocesses, Centre of Biotechnology of SfaxUniversity of SfaxSfaxTunisia
  2. 2.Aquatic Ecosystem Biodiversity Research Unit, Department of life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences of SfaxUniversity of SfaxSfaxTunisia

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