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Ulva rigida in the future ocean: potential for carbon capture, bioremediation, and biomethane production

Lookup NU author(s): Guang Gao, Professor Tony Clare, Dr Craig Rose, Dr Gary Caldwell



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Ulva species have been considered as ideal candidates for carbon capture, bioremediation, and biofuel production. However, little is known regarding the effects of simultaneous ocean warming, acidification, and eutrophication on these capacities. In this study, Ulva rigida was cultivated under two levels of: temperature (14 oC (LT) and 18 oC (HT)); pH (8.10 and 7.70) by controlling pCO2 (LC, HC respectively); and nutrients (low (LN) - 50 μM N and 2.5 μM P and high (HN) - 1000 μM N and 50 μM P) for six weeks. During the first week of cultivation, HT, HC, and HN increased biomass by 38.1%, 17.1% and 20.8% respectively, whilst the higher temperature led to negative growth in weeks 2, 4, and 6 due to reproductive events. By the end of the cultivation, biomass under HT/HC/HN was 130.4% higher than the control (LT/LC/LN), contributing to a higher carbon capture capacity. Although the thalli at HT released nutrients to seawater in weeks 2, 4, and 6, the HT/HC/HN treatment increased the overall nitrate uptake rate over the cultivation period by 489.0%. The HT/HC/HN treatment also had an increased biochemical methane potential and methane yield (47.3% and 254.6% respectively). Our findings demonstrate that the capacities for carbon and nutrient capture, and biomethane production of U. rigida in the future ocean may be enhanced, providing important insight into the interactions between global change and seaweeds.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gao G, Clare AS, Rose C, Caldwell G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Global Change Biology Bioenergy

Year: 2018

Volume: 10

Issue: 1

Pages: 39-51

Print publication date: 01/01/2018

Online publication date: 20/06/2017

Acceptance date: 13/06/2017

Date deposited: 01/09/2017

ISSN (print): 1757-1693

ISSN (electronic): 1757-1707

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12465


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