Growth and DNA damage in young Laminaria sporophytes exposed to ultraviolet radiation: implication for depth zonation of kelps on Helgoland (North Sea)
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Growth as an integrative parameter of all physiological processes was measured in young sporophytes of temperate Laminaria digitata, Laminaria saccharina and Laminaria hyperborea exposed in the laboratory to irradiance consisting of either only photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) or to a spectrum including ultraviolet radiation (UVR) (PAR+UVA+UVB) by use of cut-off glass filters. Size increment was measured every 10 min over a period of 18–21 days using growth chambers with on-line video measuring technique. In the chamber, plants were grown at 10±2°C and 16:8 h light–dark cycles with 6 h additional UVR exposure in the middle of the light period. Tissue morphology and absorption spectra were measured in untreated young sporophytes while chlorophyll a content and DNA damage were measured in treated thalli at the end of the experiment. Sensitivity of growth under UVR was found to be related to the observed upper depth distribution limit of the upper sublittoral L. digitata, upper to mid sublittoral L. saccharina and lower sublittoral L. hyperborea. Tissue DNA damage is, however, dependent on thallus thickness which minimizes UVR effect where outer cell layers shade inner cells and provide longer pathlength for UVR. Exposure to UVR causes cellular, enzymatic and molecular damage. Presence of UV-absorbing compounds further reduces effective UVR from reaching physiological targets. The cost of producing higher amount of UV-absorbing compounds and effective DNA repair mechanism can, however, divert photosynthate at the expense of growth. Tissue chlorophyll a content was not significantly different between treatments suggesting a capacity for acclimation to moderate UVR fluence. Growth acclimation to repeated UVR exposure was observed within a period of 12 days while growth inhibition was observed after a longer UVR exposure period of 21 days. The results give further insight into the effects of UVR on the cellular level and show how ecological parameters such as the upper depth distribution limit are dependent on cellular processes.