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Impact of light quality on freshwater phytoplankton community in outdoor mesocosms

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In shallow lakes, wind wave turbulence alters underwater spectral composition, but the influence of this phenomenon on phytoplankton community structure is poorly understood. We used 100L mesocosms to investigate the influence of light quality on a natural phytoplankton community collected from Taihu Lake in China. The communities in mesocosms were exposed to sunlight filtered for white, blue, green, and red light, while wave-making pumps simulated wind wave turbulence similar to Taihu Lake. Over the course of experiment, each filtered light reduced the total phytoplankton abundance compared to white light. The mean abundance of phytoplankton in controls was 1.72, 1.78, and 7.89 times of that in the red, blue, and green light treatments. Red, blue, and green light significantly promoted the growth of cyanobacteria, green algae, and diatoms, respectively, and induced successional change of the phytoplankton species under the tested conditions. The proportion of Microcystis to total phytoplankton abundance in controls and red light shifted from 87.09% at the beginning to 37.95% and 56.30% at the end of the experiment, respectively, and maintained its dominance, whereas Microcystis lost its dominance and was replaced by Scenedesmus (53.78%) and Synedra (53.18%) in the blue and green light, respectively. Given the process of how these phytoplankton compete in designated spectrum, exploring these influences could help provide new insights into the dominance formation of toxic cyanobacteria.

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The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available as they also form part of an ongoing study but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This study was funded by the Central Public-interest Scientific Institution Basal Research Fund, CAFS (NO.2018HY-ZD04), Natural Scientific Foundation of China (Grant No. 41971062), and a National Science Foundation (USA) grant (DEB-1240870).

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“LX analyzed and interpreted the algal data and was the major contributor in writing the manuscript. WWP measured the relevant physical and chemical parameters. XMT and GFL are the main funders of the research. GJY, CNZ, and RMM proofread and revised the language and content of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.”

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Correspondence to Guijun Yang.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Xu, L., Pan, W., Yang, G. et al. Impact of light quality on freshwater phytoplankton community in outdoor mesocosms. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 58536–58548 (2021).

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