Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 119, Issue 3, pp 257–272 | Cite as

State-transitions facilitate robust quantum yields and cause an over-estimation of electron transport in Dunaliella tertiolecta cells held at the CO2 compensation point and re-supplied with DIC

  • Sven Ihnken
  • Jacco C. Kromkamp
  • John Beardall
  • Greg M. Silsbe
Regular Paper


Photosynthetic energy consumption and non-photosynthetic energy quenching processes are inherently linked. Both processes must be controlled by the cell to allow cell maintenance and growth, but also to avoid photodamage. We used the chlorophyte algae Dunaliella tertiolecta to investigate how the interactive regulation of photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic pathways varies along dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and photon flux gradients. Specifically, cells were transferred to DIC-deplete media to reach a CO2 compensation before being re-supplied with DIC at various concentrations and different photon flux levels. Throughout these experiments we monitored and characterized the photophysiological responses using pulse amplitude modulated fluorescence, oxygen evolution, 77 K fluorescence emission spectra, and fast-repetition rate fluorometry. O2 uptake was not significantly stimulated at DIC depletion, which suggests that O2 production rates correspond to assimilatory photosynthesis. Fluorescence-based measures of relative electron transport rates (rETRs) over-estimated oxygen-based photosynthetic measures due to a strong state-transitional response that facilitated high effective quantum yields. Adoption of an alternative fluorescence-based rETR calculation that accounts for state-transitions resulted in improved linear oxygen versus rETR correlation. This study shows the extraordinary capacity of D. tertiolecta to maintain stable effective quantum yields by flexible regulation of state-transitions. Uncertainties about the control mechanisms of state-transitions are presented.


Dunaliella tertiolecta DIC depletion Photoacclimation Non-photochemical quenching State-transitions Photoprotection 



SI was funded by Monash Graduate Scholarship and Monash International Postgraduate Research Scholarship. Experiments at JB’s laboratory were funded by the Australian Research Council. Kevin Oxborough made constructive and helpful comments to the data presented, which is very much appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Ihnken
    • 1
  • Jacco C. Kromkamp
    • 1
  • John Beardall
    • 2
  • Greg M. Silsbe
    • 1
  1. 1.Netherlands Institute for Sea ResearchNIOZYersekeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.School of Biological ScienceMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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