Continuous cultures of phytoplankton


1 David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability, Civil Engineering, Strathclyde University, Glasgow G4 0NG, Scotland, UK

2 School of Mathematics, King’s Buildings, Edinburgh University, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh, Scotland e

3 Istanbul Technical University, Maslak, Istanbul, Turkey

4 Marine Sciences Institute, Middle East Technical University, Erdemli, PK 28 Icel, Turkey


The development of cultures of phytoplankton adapting throughout several days in an axenic, continuous-flow chemostat to yield a steady kinetic state of competing species is described mathematically. The adaptation of the growth rate to the chemostat environment inhibits integration of the equation of conservation of phytoplankton populations, though eventually when a steady state is reached the growth rate becomes equal to the rate of flow through the chemostat. Representation of species growth rates by a Verhuls formulation utilising experimentally determinable intra- and interspecies interaction constants permits the rapid prediction of the adaptation and alteration in the populations of competing phytoplankton species with changes in the chemostat environment. Illustrations of the behaviour of two and three competing species are extended to consideration of the stabilities of cultures of many competing species. Stable steady states of phytoplankton in a continuous-flow chemostat comprise a classic thermodynamic system and consequently the utilisation of light energy by the cells varies inversely with their growth rate. It is probable that when growth is nutrient limited, intra-and interspecies interaction parameters diminish as the demands of consumption are more nearly matched by the ratios of the limiting nutrients