, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 399-408
Date: 25 Mar 2004

Metabolic recovery of continental antarctic cryptogams after winter

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The activation of metabolism after the winter period was investigated in several mosses and lichens in continental Antarctica. Thalli that were still in their over-wintering inactive state in early spring were sprayed artificially and the time-dependent activation of photosystem II (PSII), carbon fixation and respiration was determined using gas exchange and chlorophyll a fluorescence techniques. The investigated lichens recovered PSII activity almost completely within the first few minutes and gross photosynthesis was fully reactivated within a few hours. In contrast, photosynthesis took much longer to recover in mosses, which could indicate a general difference between the green-algal symbionts in lichens and moss chloroplasts. Only small and quickly reversible increased rates of respiration were observed for the foliose lichen Umbilicaria aprina from a more xeric habitat. In contrast, species occurring near persistent meltwater, such as the moss Bryum subrotundifolium and the lichen Physcia caesia, had highly increased respiration rates that were maintained for several days after activation. Calculation of the carbon balances indicated that the activation pattern strongly dictated the length of time before a carbon gain was achieved. It appears that the differences in recovery reflect the water relations of the main growth period in summer.