Dark Respiration and Organic Carbon Loss

  • John A. RavenEmail author
  • John Beardall
Part of the Developments in Applied Phycology book series (DAPH, volume 6)


The dark respiratory pathways of eukaryotic microalgae are generally similar to those of other eukaryotes. Differences include the Entner-Douderoff pathway replacing the Emden-Meyer-Parnas pathway of glycolysis in diatom plastids, the presence of an alternative pathway from 2-oxoglutarate to succinate in the Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle in Euglena and cyanobacteria, and the constitutive replacement in dinoflagellates of the H+-pumping Complex I in the inner mitochondrial membrane by a matrix NADH –UQ oxidoreductase that does not pump H+. All of these alternative pathways have a lower energetic efficiency than the mechanisms they replace. Widespread among microalgae is the mitochondrial alternate oxidase that facultatively replaces H+-pumping Complexes III and IV with a non-energy conserving pathway. More remains to be established on, for example, the H+:electron ratio and H+:ATP ratios in mitochondrial reactions in algae, and hence the energetic efficiency of ATP synthesis in oxidative phosphophorylation. The main functions of respiration are growth processes, converting photosynthate and exogenous inorganic nutrients into cell material using ATP, NADPH and C skeleton manipulations, and maintenance using ATP. For both processes ATP and NADPH can also be supplied in the light by thylakoid reactions although the extent of dark respiratory processes (other the C skeleton manipulations) is still uncertain. Dissolved organic C loss occurs in algae, though there is net organic C entry in osmo-chemorganotrophic growth. While some functions of dissolved organic molecules lost from cells are known, more remains to be established on the magnitude and role of this loss in photolithotrophic relative to phago-chemorganotrophic and phagomixotrophic growth.


Alternate Oxidase ATP C Skeletons Emden-Meyer-Parnas pathway Entner-Douderoff pathway Growth respiration Maintenance respiration Mitochondria NADPH Osmo-chemoorganotrophy Phagochemoorganotrophy Phagomixotrophy Photolithotrophy Dissolved organic compounds Tricarboxylic acid cycle 



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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Plant BiologyUniversity of Dundee at the James Hutton InstituteInvergowrieUK
  2. 2.Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change ClusterUniversity of Technology SydneyUltimoAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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