Marine Biology

, Volume 103, Issue 3, pp 381–385 | Cite as

Light harvesting in the green alga Ostreobium sp., a coral symbiont adapted to extreme shade

  • D. C. Fork
  • A. W. D. Larkum


Ostreobium sp. (Chlorophyta: Siphonales) can be found as green bands within the skeletal material of a number of stony corals in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean regions. Many of these corals also contain symbiotic dinoflagellates in the overlaying coral polyps that effectively screen out all the typical photosynthetically active radiation from the algae in the green bands below. Ostreobium sp., nevertheless, grows photosynthetically. Its action spectrum and absorption spectrum have been shown to extend much further into the near infra-red compared to other green algae. In the present study, carried out in 1987, fluorescence excitation and emission spectra were measured in Ostreobium sp. and compared to spectra obtained from the green alga Ulva sp. and the brown alga Endarachne sp. Xanthophylls, probably siphonein and an unidentified xanthophyll probably related to siphonaxanthin, are photosynthetically active in Ostreobium sp., and can sensitize Photosystem II fluorescence at 688 nm and Photosystem I (PS I) fluorescence at 718 nm. The fluorescence emission spectra of Ostreobium sp. measured at 25° C and 77 K were not remarkably different from those of the green alga Ulva sp. Absorbance changes induced by light were measured in Ostreobium sp. from 670 to 750 nm and were like those normally seen in green plants except that, in addition to the minimum expected for the reaction-center chlorophyll of PS I (P700) at 703 nm, another minimum was seen at 730 nm. It is possible that this spectrumreflects the functioning of a reaction center of Photosystem I that has adapted to function in light highly enriched in far-red wavelengths.


Green Alga Xanthophyll Dinoflagellate Ulva Fluorescence Emission Spectrum 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. C. Fork
    • 1
  • A. W. D. Larkum
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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