Differential growth response of Ulva lactuca to ammonium and nitrate assimilation

Marcel Tutor Ale, Jørn Dalgaard Mikkelsen, Anne S Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Controlled cultivation of marine macroalgal biomass such as Ulva species, notably Ulva lactuca, is currently studied for production of biofuels or functional food ingredients. In a eutrophic environment, this macrophyte is exposed to varying types of nutrient supply, including different and fluctuating levels of nitrogen sources. Our understanding of the influences of this varying condition on the uptake and growth responses of U. lactuca is limited. In this present work, we examined the growth response of U. lactuca exposed to different sources of nitrogen (NH4+; NO3−; and the combination NH4NO3) by using photo-scanning technology for monitoring the growth kinetics of U. lactuca. The images revealed differential increases of the surface area of U. lactuca disks with time in response to different N-nutrient enrichments. The results showed a favorable growth response to ammonium as the nitrogen source. The NH4Cl and NaNO3 rich media (50 μM of N) accelerated U. lactuca growth to a maximum specific growth rate of 16.4 ± 0.18% day−1 and 9.4 ± 0.72% day−1, respectively. The highest biomass production rate obtained was 22.5 ± 0.24 mg DW m−2·day−1. The presence of ammonium apparently discriminated the nitrate uptake by U. lactuca when exposed to NH4NO3. Apart from showing the significant differential growth response of U. lactuca to different nitrogen sources, the work exhibits the applicability of a photo-scanning approach for acquiring precise quantitative growth data for U. lactuca as exemplified by assessment of the growth response to two different N-sources.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Pages (from-to)345-351
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Nitrate
  • Ammonium
  • Growth monitoring
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Ulva
  • Seaweed cultivation


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