Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and pH are key factors that control the growth rate of microalgae growing photoautotrophically. Being able to quantify how DIC and pH independently affect growth kinetics requires a means to control each parameter independently. In this study, we used the Proton Condition (PC) to develop means to control pH and DIC independently. Using the PC, we found that different N sources systematically affect the alkalinity and the DIC in distinct ways. With pH controlled at a fixed level by CO2 addition, using nitrate as the N source increased the alkalinity and DIC concentration in proportion to the increase in biomass concentration. In contrast, using ammonium caused the alkalinity and DIC to decline, while using ammonium nitrate left the DIC nearly unchanged. Experiments with a model photoautotroph cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, in batch experiments with modified BG-11 media and a pH-stat confirmed all of the DIC predictions of the PC-based model. Thus, this study provides a mechanistic basis for managing the DIC for photoautotrophic cultures through the N source. In particular, using ammonium nitrate makes it possible to control DIC and pH independently in a pH-stat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9826-9831
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Jul 28 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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