, Volume 684, Issue 1, pp 215–224 | Cite as

Selected coccal green algae are not affected by the humic substance Huminfeed® in term of growth or photosynthetic performance

  • Tobias HeinzeEmail author
  • Hanno Bährs
  • Matthias Gilbert
  • Christian E. W. Steinberg
  • Christian Wilhelm
Primary Research Paper


Humic substances (HSs) have been shown to influence growth, photophysiology, and redox homeostasis in phototrophs. However, many ecological studies deliver controversial results indicating inhibitory or stimulating effects depending on the kind of phototrophic organism or type of HSs applied. Here we analyzed the effect of Huminfeed® (HF), a preparation from leonardite associated with lignite deposits, on growth and photosynthetic performance of three different coccal green algae. Concentrations of HF in the range of 2–20 mg l−1 dissolved organic carbon (DOC) did neither affect the growth rate nor the light-adapted photosynthetic electron transport. Even photoinhibitory light intensities of 1,600 μmol photons m−2 s−1, representing the tenfold of growth light intensity, did not result in a decline of the maximal photosynthetic rate in HF-treated algae. In HF-grown algae, a very subtle decrease by about 10% could be observed in thermoluminescent light emission, a sensitive method to detect changes in photosystem II (PSII) chemistry. However, thermoluminescence (TL) represents only 3% of the light-induced charge separated states in PSII. Hence, rather small changes will not have significant effects on overall photosynthetic performance and growth. Therefore, the physiological effect of HSs on freshwater phototrophs has to be revisited.


Chlorophyll fluorescence Oxygen evolution Humic substances Oxidative stress Chlorophyceae Chlorococcales 


Chl a

Chlorophyll a


Dissolved organic carbon




Humic substance


Natural organic matter


Photosystem II


Relative electron transport rate





The help given by some people of the stress ecology laboratory is gratefully acknowledged, particularly by Shumon Chakrabati for assisting the laboratory work, Andreas Nicklisch for general advices and Yvonne Pörs and Ulrich Schreiber for advices with the Phyto-PAM. We also thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for supporting the scientific work (Grant Ste 673/17-1 and Wi 764/17-1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Heinze
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hanno Bährs
    • 2
  • Matthias Gilbert
    • 1
  • Christian E. W. Steinberg
    • 2
  • Christian Wilhelm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant PhysiologyUniversity of Leipzig, Institute of BiologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of BiologyHumboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Laboratory of Freshwater and Stress EcologyBerlinGermany

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