Ethene (ethylene) production in the marine macroalga Ulva (Enteromorpha) intestinalis L. (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae): effect of light-stress and co-production with dimethyl sulphide

Authors

  • INA PLETTNER,

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    1. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
      Ina Plettner, (current address) University of Bremen, Marine Botany – FB 2, Postfach 330440, 28334 Bremen, Germany. E-mail: plettner@uni-bremen.de
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  • MICHAEL STEINKE,

    1. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
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  • GILL MALIN

    1. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
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Ina Plettner, (current address) University of Bremen, Marine Botany – FB 2, Postfach 330440, 28334 Bremen, Germany. E-mail: plettner@uni-bremen.de

ABSTRACT

Ethene (ethylene; H2C = CH2) is one of a range of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) that affect atmospheric chemistry and global climate. Ethene acts as a hormone in higher plants and its role in plant biochemistry, physiology and ecology has been the subject of extensive research. Ethene is also found in seawater, but despite evidence that marine microalgae and seaweeds can produce ethene directly, its production is generally attributed to photochemical breakdown of dissolved organic matter. Here we confirmed ethene production in cultured samples of the macroalga Ulva (Enteromorpha) intestinalis. Ethene levels increased substantially when samples acclimatized to low light conditions were transferred to high light, and ethene addition reduced chlorophyll levels by 30%. A range of potential inhibitors and inducers of ethene biosynthesis were tested. Evidence was found for ethene synthesis via the 1-aminocylopropane-1-acrylic acid (ACC) pathway and ACC oxidase activity was confirmed for cell-free extracts. Addition of acrylate, a potential ethene precursor in algae that contain the compatible solute dimethylsulphoniopropionate, doubled the ethene produced but no acrylate decarboxylase activity was found. Nonetheless the data support active production of ethene and we suggest ethene may play a multifaceted role in algae as it does in higher plants.

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