The data obtained in these experiments indicate clearly that unless the necessary precautions are taken to keep the iron of the culture medium in solution the results obtained by varying the H ion concentration will not represent the true effect of this factor on growth. The availability of iron in nutrient solutions has been the subject of numerous recent investigations and it is now known that iron is precipitated at the lower hydrogen ion concentrations, that the iron of certain iron salts is less likely to be precipitated than that of others, and that certain salts of organic acids tend to keep the iron in solution. In general, ferric citrate seems to be the most favorable source of iron. In addition to chemical precipitation, however, it is also possible for the iron to be removed by adsorption on an amorphous precipitate such as calcium phosphate. As this precipitate is frequently formed when nutrient solutions are made alkaline, this may account for the discordant results reported in the literature as to the availability of certain forms of iron. By omitting calcium from the culture solution iron can be maintained in a form available for growth in alkaline solutions by the addition of sodium citrate. In such solutions the maximum growth of Chlorella occurred at pH 7.5. The alkaline limit for growth has not been established as yet.
In investigating the availability of iron at varying concentrations of the hydrogen ion, changes in the pH value of the solution during the course of an experiment should also be taken into account. This is especially important in unbuffered solutions. The differential absorption of the ions of ammonium salts may cause a marked increase in the hydrogen ion concentration, which in turn will cause an increase in the solubility of iron. In strongly buffered solutions as used in these experiments this effect is slight.