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Keywords:

  • ammonium;
  • assimilation;
  • Enteromorpha sp.;
  • glutamine synthetase;
  • kinetics;
  • nitrogen;
  • Osmundaria colensoi;
  • seaweeds

The kinetics of ammonium assimilation were investigated in two seaweeds from northeastern New Zealand, Enteromorpha sp. (Chlorophyceae, Ulvales) and Osmundaria colensoi (Hook. f. et Harvey) R.E. Norris (Rhodophyceae, Ceramiales), with the use of a recently developed method for measuring assimilation. In contrast to ammonium uptake, which was nonsaturable, ammonium assimilation exhibited Michaelis–Menten kinetics in both species. Maximum rates of assimilation (Vmax) were 27 and 12 μmol·(g DW)−1·h−1 for Enteromorpha sp. and O. colensoi, respectively, with half-saturation (Km) constants for assimilation of 18 and 41 μM. At environmentally relevant concentrations, assimilation accounted for all of the ammonium taken up by both species. The maximum rate of assimilation in Enteromorpha sp. resembled very closely that of the ammonium assimilatory enzyme, glutamine synthetase, when activities of the latter were measured in the presence of subsaturating substrate (glutamate and ATP) concentrations. Moreover, the initial rate of glutamine production (measured with HPLC) following ammonium enrichment was almost identical to the rates determined above. The rate of ammonium assimilation was therefore determined by three independent methods, two of which involve in vivo measurements, and it is suggested that the use of assimilation kinetics may be useful when examining the nutrient relations of seaweeds.