Physiological adaptation of two unicellular green algae to pH stress
Two marine algae, Dunaliella parva and Chlorococcum submarinum were selected to study the effect of pH stress on single celled algae. D. parva has been well characterised physiologically, but not with regards to pH stress. C submarinum has not been so extensively studied, but is known to grow over a wide pH range from pH 4.5 to 10.5. It was of prime importance that the algal cells were grown at the desired extreme values of external pH. Problems were encountered at high levels of pH but were overcome by growing the algae in a fermenter set up as a batch culture. This method of growth was used for both algae at extreme values of external pH and it allowed the accurate control of the media pH by the automatic addition of acid or alkali. pH 7.5 cells were grown in normal flask batch culture. The cell number, cell volume, and chlorophyll content of both algae were determined over a wide range of pH values, showing that differences in external pH had significant effects on individual cells. Protein concentrations were measured and were shown to increase in pH 9.0 grown cells. Determination of cell volume, internal pH and membrane potential have been carried out using radiolabelled isotopes for algae grown over a wide pH range. Cell volume was shown to increase at both acid and alkaline pH values. The internal pH of both algae was found to be at a more neutral pH than the external pH. For both D. parva and C submarinum, the membrane potential increased with increasing external pH. Enzyme activities in crude extracts were measured to establish the effects of external pH changes on metabolic pathways. The activity of these enzymes, taken from different organelles in the cell, was used to investigate the uniformity of internal pH.