Effects of the heavy metal cadmium on photosynthetic activity and the xanthophyll cycle in Phaeodactylum tricornutum
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Cadmium (Cd) is one of the most common and widespread heavy metals in the environment. Cd has adverse effects on photosynthesis that are countered by photosystem I (PSI) and photosystem II (PSII); however, the protective responses of these photosystems to heavy metal stress remain unclear. Using the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, a biological indicator that is widely used to assess the impact of environmental toxins, we simultaneously measured the effects of Cd on PSI and PSII and examined the levels of pigments in response to high light treatments before and after Cd exposure. Cd significantly reduced the quantum yield and electron transport rates of PSI and PSII. The quantum yield of non-photochemical energy dissipation in PSI due to donor side limitation increased faster than the quantum yield due to acceptor side limitation. The Cd treatment activated the P. tricornutum xanthophyll cycle under artificial light conditions, as indicated by an increased diatoxanthin content. Xanthophyll is important for photoprotection; therefore, the accumulation of diatoxanthin may down-regulate PSII activities to reduce oxidative damage. Together, our results suggest that the rapid reduction in PSII activities following Cd exposure is an adaptive response to heavy metal stress that reflects the variable exposure to external stressors in the native P. tricornutum environment.
Keywordheavy metal cadmium photosystem I photosystem II Phaeodactylum tricornutum
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We thank Shelley Robison, PhD, from Liwen Bianji, Edanz Group China (www.liwenbianji.cn/ac), for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript.
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