Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 72, Issue 1, pp 39-53

First online:

A fluorometric method for the differentiation of algal populations in vivo and in situ

  • M. BeutlerAffiliated withZentrum für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie (ZBM), Universität Kiel Email author 
  • , K. H. WiltshireAffiliated withBiologische Anstalt Helgoland
  • , B. MeyerAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut (MPI) für Limnologie
  • , C. MoldaenkeAffiliated withbbe Moldaenke
  • , C. LüringAffiliated withbbe Moldaenke
  • , M. MeyerhöferAffiliated withInstitut für Meereskunde (IfM)
  • , U.-P. HansenAffiliated withZentrum für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie (ZBM), Universität Kiel
  • , H. DauAffiliated withFB Physik, Freie Universität Berlin

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Fingerprints of excitation spectra of chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence can be used to differentiate `spectral groups' of microalgae in vivo and in situ in, for example, vertical profiles within a few seconds. The investigated spectral groups of algae (green group, Chlorophyta; blue, Cyanobacteria; brown, Heterokontophyta, Haptophyta, Dinophyta; mixed, Cryptophyta) are each characterised by a specific composition of photosynthetic antenna pigments and, consequently, by a specific excitation spectrum of the Chl fluorescence. Particularly relevant are Chl a, Chl c, phycocyanobilin, phycoerythrobilin, fucoxanthin and peridinin. A laboratory-based instrument and a submersible instrument were constructed containing light-emitting diodes to excite Chl fluorescence in five distinct wavelength ranges. Norm spectra were determined for the four spectral algal groups (several species per group). Using these norm spectra and the actual five-point excitation spectrum of a water sample, a separate estimate of the respective Chl concentration is rapidly obtained for each algal group. The results of dilution experiments are presented. In vivo and in situ measurements are compared with results obtained by HPLC analysis. Depth profiles of the distribution of spectral algal groups taken over a time period of few seconds are shown. The method for algae differentiation described here opens up new research areas, monitoring and supervision tasks related to photosynthetic primary production in aquatic environments.

accessory pigments aquatic ecosystems chlorophyll fluorescence phytoplankton primary production