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.
- Carbon dioxide fixation
- Renewable resources