Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 13, 2021

Effect of caffeine on the growth and photosynthetic efficiency of marine macroalgae

Ira Gray, Lindsay A. Green-Gavrielidis ORCID logo and Carol Thornber
From the journal Botanica Marina


Caffeine is present in coastal environments worldwide and there is a need to assess its impact on marine organisms. Here, we exposed two species of ecologically important marine macroalgae (Chondrus crispus and Codium fragile subsp. fragile) to a suite of caffeine concentrations and measured their response. Caffeine concentrations of 10–100 ng L−1 had no significant effect on the growth rate or photosynthetic efficiency of either algae. Extremely high concentrations (100–200 mg L−1), which may occur acutely, produced sublethal effects for both species and mortality in C. fragile subsp. fragile. Our results highlight the need to understand how caffeine impacts marine species.

Corresponding author: Lindsay A. Green-Gavrielidis, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, 120 Flagg Road, Kingston, RI02881, USA; and Department of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Salve Regina University, 100 Ochre Point Ave, Newport, RI02840, USA, E-mail:

Funding source: National Science Foundation

Award Identifier / Grant number: #EPS-1004057

Funding source: University of Rhode Island

Award Identifier / Grant number: Undergraduate Research Initiative Award


We would like to thank Luke Sebesta, Katherine Hannibal, and members of the Thornber Lab for laboratory and/or logistical help. This manuscript was greatly improved through the comments of two anonymous reviewers.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: Funding was provided by an Undergraduate Research Initiative Award from the University of Rhode Island (awarded to I. Gray) and the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Cooperative Agreement #EPS-1004057.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2020-08-24
Accepted: 2020-12-18
Published Online: 2021-01-13
Published in Print: 2021-02-23

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