Scientia Marina, Vol 79, No 1 (2015)

Effects of light quality on reproduction, growth and pigment content of Gracilaria birdiae (Rhodophyta: Gracilariales)

José Bonomi Barufi
Departamento de Botânica, Centro de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

Félix L. Figueroa
Departamento de Ecología y Geología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, Spain

Estela M. Plastino
Departamento de Botânica, Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo, Spain


Gracilaria species are the main source of agar worldwide. Since laboratory cultivation is an important means of sustaining such production, this study aimed to assess the influence of two fundamental strategies of physiological algae adjustment, photoacclimation and photomorphogenesis, on G. birdiae physiology. Specifically, the effects of different spectral light qualities on reproduction, growth, and pigment content in two distinct photoperiods (8 and 14 hours) were examined. Tetrasporophytes and gametophytes were submitted to different light qualities: white, green, red, and blue over the course of nine weeks. At the end of this period, chlorophyll a, allophycocyanin, phycocyanin, and phycoerythrin contents were analysed. Gametophytes showed reproductive structures only under monochromatic radiation. A stimulatory effect on tetrasporangium differentiation was mainly observed under red light, but this high fertility was negatively correlated with growth rate, i.e. algae cultivated under red light showed the lowest growth rate. However, while growth rates were higher in algae exposed to white light, they were similar to those observed in algae subjected to green light and 14 hours of daylight. PE was the predominant pigment, irrespective of light quality. Phycocyanin and phycoerythrin concentration increased when algae were cultivated under green and blue light. Therefore, considering future management prospects for G. birdiae mariculture, we suggest that red light could be utilized as a reproductive inductor to produce tetraspores. Furthermore, if the aim is to achieve high phycoerythrin content, continuous blue light could be applied during a short photoperiod. Indeed, the combination of different wavelengths could allow better economic resource exploitation.


Gracilaria birdiae; growth; light quality; pigment content; photoacclimation; reproduction

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