Marine Biology

, Volume 102, Issue 2, pp 243–255

Effects of irradiance and ultraviolet radiation on photoadaptation in the zooxanthellae of Aiptasia pallida: primary production, photoinhibition, and enzymic defenses against oxygen toxicity

  • M. P. Lesser
  • J. M. Shick

DOI: 10.1007/BF00428286

Cite this article as:
Lesser, M.P. & Shick, J.M. Mar. Biol. (1989) 102: 243. doi:10.1007/BF00428286


Cnidarians which contain symbiotic algae are constantly faced with the challenges of a changing photic regime and a hyperoxic environment. Zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium sp.) from the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida (Verrill), collected and cultured at Bermuda Biological Station in 1986, exhibit a suite of compensatory responses to changes in irradiance, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and to the toxicity resulting from their interaction with photosynthetically produced oxygen. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase inactivate superoxide radicals (O2-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which are mediators of oxygen toxicity, show an increase in specific activity with irradiance and in response to UV, both in cultured zooxanthellae (CZ) and freshly isolated zooxanthellae (FIZ) from acclimated anemones. CZ and FIZ exposed to environmentally realistic UV levels show a 30 to 40% increase in SOD activities compared with zooxanthellae exposed to similar irradiances without UV. CZ consistently show higher activities of both SOD and catalase compared to FIZ. Both CZ and FIZ exhibit changes in chlorophyll content and in the relationship between photosynthesis and irradiance which suggest photoadaptive changes in CO2-fixing enzymes, the photosynthetic-electron transport system, or in photosynthetic unit size (PSU). UV has a greater effect on the photosynthetic capacity (Pmax) of FIZ when compared to CZ acclimated at an equivalent irradiance with or without a UV component. UV also enhances the photoinhibition observed at high irradiance in both CZ and FIZ. Differences in enzyme activity between CZ and FIZ suggest an important role for the host in the protection of zooxanthellae against the direct effects of environmentally realistic UV while the photosynthetic performance of zooxanthellae in situ may not be as well protected.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. P. Lesser
    • 1
  • J. M. Shick
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Center for Marine StudiesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean SciencesWest Boothbay HarborUSA

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