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Keywords:

  • artificial seawater;
  • marine phytoplankton;
  • nutrient enrichment

Although most phycologists use natural seawater for culturing marine species, artificial media continue to play important roles in overcoming problems of supply and seasonal variability in the quality of natural seawater and also for experiments involving manipulation of micro- and macronutrients. Several artificial media have been developed over the last 90 years; enriched seawater, artificial water (ESAW) is among the more popular recipes. ESAW has the advantage of an ionic balance that is somewhat closer to that of normal seawater. The original paper compared the growth of 83 strains of microalgae in natural seawater (ESNW) versus ESAW and determined that 23% grew more poorly in the artificial water. Since 1980, however, the composition of ESAW, as used by the original authors, has changed considerably. In particular, the added forms of phosphate, iron, and silicate have been changed and the trace metal mixture has been altered to include nickel, molybdenum, and selenium. We tested whether these changes improved the ability of the artificial medium to grow previously difficult to grow phytoplankton species. To test this, we selected eight species that had been shown to grow better in ESNW than in ESAW and compared their growth again, using the currently used recipe with all the above modifications. For all but one species (Apedinella spinifera), growth rate and final yield was no different between the media but in one case (Emiliania huxleyi) was slightly higher in ESAW. No differences in cell morphology or volume were found in any case. We conclude that changes to the enrichment portion of the recipe have significantly improved this artificial seawater medium and that it can be used to grow an even wider range of coastal and open ocean species.