, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 363-372

Photosynthetic and optical properties of the marine chlorophyte Dunaliella tertiolecta grown under fluctuating light caused by surface-wave focusing

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Abstract

Photosynthetic and optical properties of the marine chlorophyte Dunaliella tertiolecta Butcher were studied in response to irradiance fluctuations caused by surface-wave focusing. The experimental conditions simulated the prominent features of the light field (high average irradiance, spectral composition and statistical properties) in the uppermost few meters of the water column under sunny surface conditions. The properties of algae grown under high-frequency fluctuations were compared with control cells grown under constant light at the same average irradiance (∼800 μmol quantam-2s-1). No significant differences were found for a number of parameters, including growth rate, cellular chlorophyll a and pigment ratios, photosynthetic unit size and density of Photosystem I reaction centers, the rate of photosynthesis at the growth irradiance, dark respiration, and in vivo fluorescence of chlorophyll a per cell. Photosynthetic parameters were not affected by whether the incident light for oxygen exchange measurements was fluctuating or constant. This was the case whether the cells had been previously acclimated to either fluctuating or constant irradiance. Such a photosynthetic response indicates that cells are accomplishing a time integration of the fluctuating light. In addition, although D. tertiolecta is capable of dramatically changing its optical properties in response to low or high growth irradiance levels, the refractive index of the cells, the efficiency factors for light absorption and scattering by individual cells, and chlorophyll-specific absorption and scattering coefficients of cell suspensions, were all very similar under high irradiance, whether or not wave focusing was present.

Contribution to the program of GIROQ (Groupe Interuniversitaire de Recherches Océanographiques du Québec)
Communicated by M. G. Hadfield, Honolulu