Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 17–23 | Cite as

The effect of UV-B radiation on photosynthesis and respiration of phytoplankton, benthic macroalgae and seagrasses

  • A. W. D. Larkum
  • W. F. Wood
Regular Paper


Several species of marine benthic algae, four species of phytoplankton and two species of seagrass have been subjected to ultraviolet B irradiation for varying lengths of time and the effects on respiration, photosynthesis and fluorescence rise kinetics studied. No effect on respiration was found. Photosynthesis was inhibited to a variable degree in all groups of plants after irradiation over periods of up to 1 h and variable fluorescence was also inhibited in a similar way. The most sensitive plants were phytoplankton and deep-water benthic algae. Intertidal benthic algae were the least sensitive to UV-B irradiation and this may be related to adaptation, through the accumulation of UV-B screening compounds, to high light/high UV-B levels. Inhibition of variable fluorescence (Fv) of the fluorescence rise curve was a fast and sensitive indicator of UV-B damage. Two plants studied, a brown alga and a seagrass, showed very poor recovery of Fv over a period of 32 h.

Key words

oxygen evolution UV screening compounds variable fluorescence 



fluorescence yield with reaction centres closed


fluorescence yield with reaction centres open


variable fluorescence


photosynthetically active radiation


primary donor of Photosystem II


primary quencher of Photosystem II


primary quinone acceptor of Photosystem II


ultraviolet B


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. W. D. Larkum
    • 1
  • W. F. Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneyAustralia

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