, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 515-525

Dunaliella salina (Chlorophyta) with small chlorophyll antenna sizes exhibit higher photosynthetic productivities and photon use efficiencies than normally pigmented cells

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The photon use efficiencies and maximal rates of photosynthesis in Dunaliella salina (Chlorophyta) cultures acclimated to different light intensities were investigated. Batch cultures were grown to the mid-exponential phase under continuous low-light (LL: 100 μmol photon m-2 s-1) or high-light (HL: 2000 μmol photon m-2 s-1) conditions. Under LL, cells were normally pigmented (deep green) containing ∼500 chlorophyll (Chl) molecules per photosystem II (PSII) unit and ∼250 Chl molecules per photosystem I (PSI). HL-grown cells were yellow-green, contained only 60 Chl per PSII and 100 Chl per PSI and showed signs of chronic photoinhibition, i.e., accumulation of photodamaged PSII reaction centers in the chloroplast thylakoids. In LL-grown cells, photosynthesis saturated at ∼200 μmol photon m-2 s-1 with a rate (Pmax) of ∼100 mmol O2 (mol Chl)-1 s-1. In HL-grown cells, photosynthesis saturated at much higher light intensities, i.e. ∼2500 μmol photon m-2 s-1, and exhibited a three-fold higher Pmax (∼300 mmol O2 (mol Chl)-1 s-1) than the normally pigmented LL-grown cells. Recovery of the HL-grown cells from photoinhibition, occurring prior to a light-harvesting Chl antenna size increase, enhanced Pmax to ∼675 mmol O2 (mol Chl)-1 s-1. Extrapolation of these results to outdoor mass culture conditions suggested that algal strains with small Chl antenna size could exhibit 2–3 times higher productivities than currently achieved with normally pigmented cells.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.