• Chlamydomonas;
  • Cryptomonas;
  • Cyclotella;
  • fatty acids;
  • light;
  • lipids;
  • phosphate;
  • PUFA;
  • Scenedesmus;
  • temperature

We tested, in the laboratory, the influence of light intensity, temperature, and phosphorus (P) supply on fatty acid (FA) concentrations of four freshwater algae: the green algae Scenedesmus quadricauda (Turpin) Bréb. and Chlamydomonas globosa J. Snow, the cryptophyte Cryptomonas ovata Ehrenb., and the diatom Cyclotella meneghiniana Kütz. We investigated the main and interactive effects of two variables on algal FA concentrations (i.e., light intensity and P supply or temperature and P supply). Interactive effects of light intensity and P supply were most pronounced in C. meneghiniana, but were also found in S. quadricauda and C. ovata. Changes in several saturated and unsaturated FA concentrations with light were more distinct in the low-P treatments than in the high-P treatments. Interactive effects of temperature and P supply on various FA concentrations were observed in all four species, but there was no consistent pattern. In lake ecosystems, P limitation often coincides with high light intensities and temperatures in summer. Therefore, it is important to examine how combinations of these environmental conditions affect FA concentrations of primary producers that are important sources of FAs for higher trophic levels.