, Volume 231, Issue 1, pp 195-208
Date: 23 Sep 2009

Dehydration rate and time of desiccation affect recovery of the lichenic algae Trebouxia erici: alternative and classical protective mechanisms

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The mechanisms involved in desiccation tolerance of lichens and their photobionts are still poorly understood. To better understand these mechanisms we have studied dehydration rate and desiccation time in Trebouxia, the most abundant chlorophytic photobiont in lichen. Our findings indicate that the drying rate has a profound effect on the recovery of photosynthetic activity of algae after rehydration, greater than the effects of desiccation duration. The basal fluorescence (Fo) values in desiccated algae were significantly higher after rapid dehydration, than after slow dehydration, suggesting higher levels of light energy dissipation in slow-dried algae. Higher values of PSII electron transport were recovered after rehydration of slow-dried Trebouxia erici compared to rapid-dried algae. The main component of non-photochemical quenching after slow dehydration was energy dependent (q E), whereas after fast dehydration it was photoinhibition (q I). Although q E seems to play a role during desiccation recovery, no significant variations were detected in the xanthophyll cycle components. Desiccation did not affect PSI functionality. Classical antioxidant activities like superoxide dismutase or peroxidase decreased during desiccation and early recovery. Dehydrins were detected in the lichen-forming algae T. erici and were constitutively expressed. There is probably a minimal period required to develop strategies which will facilitate transition to the desiccated state in this algae. In this process, the xanthophyll cycle and classical antioxidant mechanisms play a very limited role, if any. However, our results indicate that there is an alternative mechanism of light energy dissipation during desiccation, where activation is dependent on a sufficiently slow dehydration rate.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00425-009-1030-3