Aquatic organisms are exposed to a wide range of salinity, which could critically affect their survival and growth. However, their survival and growth response to salinity stress remain unclear. This study evaluates the growth response and intracellular proline accumulation of green algae, Scenedesmus quadricauda, isolated from brackish water, against dissolved salts stress with N and P enrichment. We tested a hypothesis that nutrient enrichment can relieve the dissolved salts stress of algae by accumulating intracellular proline, thereby improving survival and growth. Four levels of salinity (0, 3, 6, 12 psu) were experimentally manipulated with four levels of nutrient stoichiometry (N:P ratio = 2, 5, 10, 20) at constant N (1 mgN/L) or P levels (0.05 and 0.5 mgP/L). In each set of experiments, growth rate and intracellular proline content were measured in triplicate. The highest level of salinity inhibited the growth rate of S. quadricauda, regardless of the nutrient levels. However, with nutrient enrichment, the alga showed tolerance to dissolved salts, reflecting intracellular proline synthesis. Proline accumulation was most prominent at the highest salinity level, and its maximum value appeared at the highest N:P ratio (i.e., highest N level) in all salinity treatments, regardless of P levels. Therefore, the effects of P and N on algal response to salt stress differ.
Keywords: N and P enrichment; N:P ratio; eutrophication; green algae; growth; survival.