|Title||The color of mass culture: spectral characteristics of a shallow water column through shade-limited algal growth dynamics1|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2016|
|Journal||Journal of Phycology|
|Keywords||diatom; linear growth phase; mass culture; non-photochemical quenching; phytochrome; red:blue wavelength ratio; water column optics|
It is envisioned that mass algal cultivation for commercial biofuels production will entail the use of large raceway pond systems, which typically have shade-limited photosynthetic growth within depths of 20–30 cm. The attenuation of light and spectral qualities of red, green, and blue wavelengths in a 20-cm water column as a function of Chl-a concentration during exponential and linear phases of growth dynamics for the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana was examined under laboratory conditions. While photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) was in excess throughout the water column during the phase of exponential growth, PAR became rate limiting differently for red, green, and blue wavelengths during the phase of linear growth. The transition from exponential to linear growth occurred at 1–2 mg Chl-a · L−1, whereby a scalar ~5 μmol photons · m−2 · s−1 at 20-cm depth was found to occur as would be anticipated having the compensation point for where rates of photosynthesis and respiration are equal. During the phase of linear growth, red wavelengths became increasingly dominant at depth as Chl-a concentrations increased, being contrary to the optical conditions for those natural bodies of water that forced the evolution of phytoplankton photosynthesis. It is hypothesized this dramatic difference in water column optics between natural and synthetic environments could influence a variety of biological reactions, importantly non-photochemical quenching capacities, which could negatively impact crop yield.