, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 219-229

Mechanisms of photoadaptation in three strains of the symbiotic dinoflagellate Symbiodinium microadriaticum

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Mechanisms of photoadaptation of photosynthesis have been studied in three strains of the symbiotic dinoflagellate Symbiodinium microadriaticum. Algal strains isolated from the clam Tridacna maxima, the sea anemone Aiptasia pulchella, and the scleractinian coral Montipora verrucosa were maintained in the defined medium ASP-8A, and were grown at irradiances ranging from 22 to 248 μE m-2 s-1 on a 14 h:10 h (light:dark) photoperiod at 26°C. All algal cultures were analysed during log-phase of growth. At all light levels, rates of cell division and photosynthesis were determined, as were cell volumes, pigmentation (including chlorophyll a, chlorophyll c 2, peridinin, β-carotene and xanthophylls), and carbon and nitrogen content. Low light-induced changes in pigmentation were evident to varying degrees in all three algal strains, although alterations in the photosynthesis-irradiance relations were distinctly different in each strain. The algae from T. maxima show the least photoadaptive capability, and seem to photoadapt by changing photosynthetic unit (PSU) size. Algae from A. pulchella appear to adapt by changing PSU number, while algae from M. verrucosa appear to photoadapt by changes in the activities of CO2-fixing enzymes or electron transport systems. These are the first observations that demonstrate functional differences in different strains of S. microadriaticum. The adaptive capabilities of the algae appear to correlate well with the ecological distribution of their respective hosts. The study was made from July 1981 through December 1982.

Communicated by N. D. Holland, La Jolla