Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 37–44 | Cite as

Photosynthetic oscillation in individual cells of the marine diatom Coscinodiscus wailesii (Bacillariophyceae) revealed by microsensor measurements

Research Article


Oscillations with a period of 1–2 min in the rate of photosynthesis have been found in leaves of C3 and C4 land plants under invariant, saturating, light and carbon dioxide. This article reports the occurrence of similar oscillations with a period of 2–2.5 min in individual cells of the marine diatom Coscinodiscus wailesii. These oscillations were determined by measurements of both oxygen (oxygen microelectrode) and carbon dioxide (pH microelectrode) just outside the plasmalemma. These oscillations were found in less than 1% of the cells examined. The occurrence of oscillations in unicelluar diatoms rules out for these organisms hypotheses as to the origin of oscillations in land plant leaves that are based on cell–cell interactions.


Coscinodiscus wailesii Diatom Photosynthetic oscillation 



Carbonic anhydrase


Carbon concentrating mechanism


Carbon dioxide


Carbonate anion







SK is very grateful to Stephanie Köhler-Rink (Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen) who not only shared her knowledge on microsensors but also her workplace in the laboratory. JAR acknowledges support from NERC for work on algal photosynthesis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Botany (FB2)University of BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Plant Research Unit, Scottish Crop Research InstituteUniversity of Dundee at SCRIInvergowrieUK

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