The water temperature changes the effect of pH on copper toxicity to the green microalgae Raphidocelis subcapitata

Gissela Pascual, Daisuke Sano, Takashi Sakamaki, Michihiro Akiba, Osamu Nishimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Rising temperature enhances the algal growth, which in turn increases the water pH. Ecotoxicity studies have suggested that copper becomes more toxic to microalgae species by increasing the temperature (within 20–30 °C) and pH. In this study, the joined effect of pH and temperature on copper toxicity to the microalgae Raphidocelis subcapitata was investigated using acclimated cells. Algal growth and toxicity tests were conducted using the medium recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD medium) at pH 6, 7, and 8 units from 15 to 30 °C, spaced by 3 °C. The specific growth rate of R. subcapitata increased by raising the pH and temperature, attributed to the higher membrane permeability and metabolism. The ecotoxicity tests showed that temperature changes the effect of pH on copper toxicity. Copper became less toxic when rising the temperature from 15 to 18 °C and from 6 to 8 pH-unit, suggesting that high pH controls copper bioavailability and toxicity. In contrast, from 21 to 30 °C, the effect of copper was not significantly altered by temperature, but it became more toxic at high pH. Results of this study warn about the higher risk of copper in cold seasons rather than warm conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133110
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar


  • Algae
  • Ecotoxicity
  • Global warming
  • Metal
  • pH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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