Effect of elevated carbon dioxide and nitric oxide on the physiological responses of two green algae, Asterarcys quadricellulare and Chlorella sorokiniana

  • Prachi Varshney
  • John Beardall
  • Sankar Bhattacharya
  • Pramod P. WangikarEmail author


Algae have the potential to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO) from flue gases. However, the effects of high concentrations of these gases on the photophysiology of algae are poorly understood. To that end, we used the techniques of chlorophyll fluorescence to study the effect of industrially relevant levels of CO2 and NO on the photophysiology of two green microalgae, Asterarcys quadricellulare and Chlorella sorokiniana, that are tolerant to these gases. Measurements of maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm) and maximum relative electron transport rate (rETRmax) show an enhanced performance of photosystem II (PSII) under high CO2 levels. In C. sorokiniana, high CO2 stimulated non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), while the opposite effect was observed in A. quadricellulare. Light-saturated photosynthetic rates (Pmax) of both species were highest at 10% CO2. Further, the tested levels of NO did not show adverse effect on the performance of PSII. OJIP chlorophyll fluorescence transients suggest that in C. sorokiniana, the energetic communication between PSII units declined at 15% CO2. However, in A. quadricellulare, this decline was visible even at 10% CO2 with complete inhibition of cell growth at 15% v/v. Overall, our results suggest that although photosynthesis was regulated differently in the two microalga, both species exhibited enhanced PSII performance under reasonably high levels of CO2 and NO. Thus, the two species are potential candidates for bio-fixation of CO2 and NO from flue gases.


CO2 tolerance Chlorophyll a fluorescence Physiological stress Non-photochemical quenching PSII heterogeneity Photosynthetic rates 



This work was supported by the JSW Foundation, India, Wadhwani Research Centre for Bioengineering, IIT Bombay, India and the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India (Grant No: BT/EB/PAN IIT/2012).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10811_2019_1950_MOESM1_ESM.docx (166 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 166 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prachi Varshney
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • John Beardall
    • 3
  • Sankar Bhattacharya
    • 4
  • Pramod P. Wangikar
    • 2
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.IITB-Monash Research AcademyIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Chemical EngineeringMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.DBT-Pan IIT Centre for BioenergyIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia
  6. 6.Wadhwani Research Centre for BioengineeringIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia

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