Gas transfer controls carbon limitation during biomass production by marine microalgae

Bojan Tamburic, Christian R. Evenhuis, David J. Suggett, Anthony W. D. Larkum, John A. Raven, Peter J. Ralph

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    This study presents the first in-depth analysis of CO2 limitation on the biomass productivity of the biofuel candidate marine microalga Nannochloropsis oculata. Net photosynthesis decreased by 60 % from 125 to 50 μmol L−1 h−1 over a 12 h light cycle as a direct result of carbon limitation. Continuous dissolved O2 and pH measurements were used to develop a detailed diurnal mechanism for the interaction between photosynthesis, gas exchange and carbonate chemistry in the photo-bioreactor. Gas exchange determined the degree of carbon limitation experienced by the algae. Carbon limitation was confirmed by delivering more CO2, which increased net photosynthesis back to its steady-state maximum. This study highlights the importance of maintaining replete carbon concentrations in photo-bioreactors and other culturing facilities, either by constant pH operation or preferably by designing a feedback loop based on the dissolved O2 concentration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2727-2736
    Number of pages10
    Issue number16
    Early online date21 Jul 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2015


    • Biomass
    • Carbon dioxide fixation
    • Kinetics
    • Photosynthesis
    • Renewable resources

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Energy(all)
    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Materials Science(all)
    • Chemical Engineering(all)


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