Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 139, Issue 1–3, pp 553–567 | Cite as

Modulation in light utilization by a microalga Asteracys sp. under mixotrophic growth regimes

  • Akanksha Agarwal
  • Smita Patil
  • Krushna Gharat
  • Reena A. PanditEmail author
  • Arvind M. Lali
Original article


This study is the first to explore the influence of incident light intensity on the photosynthetic responses under mixotrophic growth of microalga Asteracys sp. When grown mixotrophically, there was an enhanced regulation of non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of the excited state of chlorophyll (Chl) a within the cells in response to white cool fluorescent high light (HL; 600 µmol photons m−2 s−1). Simultaneous measurement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production as malondialdehyde (MDA) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX), an ROS scavenger, showed improved management of stress within mixotrophic cells under HL. Despite the observed decrease in quantum yield of photosynthesis measured through the Chl a fluorescence transient, no reduction in biomass accumulation was observed under HL for mixotrophy. However, biomass loss owing to photoinhibition was observed in cells grown phototrophically under the same irradiance. The measurements of dark recovery of NPQ suggested that “state transitions” may be partly responsible for regulating overall photosynthesis in Asteracys sp. The partitioning of photochemical and non-photochemical processes to sustain HL stress was analysed. Collectively, this study proposes that mixotrophy using glucose leads to a change in the photosynthetic abilities of Asteracys sp. while enhancing the adaptability of the alga to high irradiances.

Graphical Abstract


Mixotrophy Chlorophyll fluorescence Photoinhibition Light intensity Microalgae 



Ascorbate peroxidase


Cyclic electron flow






Dry cell weight


Enhancement effect of light


High light


Low light




Mixotrophy under high light


Mixotrophy under low light


Optical density


Chl a fluorescence transient wherein O refers to the minimum fluorescence, J and I for inflections and P for peak


Phototrophy under high light


Phototrophy under low light




Reactive oxygen species


Wet weight



This research has been supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India and University Grants Commission (UGC), India. The authors are grateful to Govindjee for his valuable comments that helped to improve the manuscript.

Author contributions

The study was conceived and designed by AA, RP and AML. Experiments were performed by AA and KG. The data were analysed and interpreted by AA, KG and RP. Drafting and critical revision of manuscript were done by AA and RP. SP provided technical knowledge.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akanksha Agarwal
    • 1
  • Smita Patil
    • 1
  • Krushna Gharat
    • 1
  • Reena A. Pandit
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arvind M. Lali
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.DBT-ICT Centre for Energy BiosciencesInstitute of Chemical TechnologyMumbaiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringInstitute of Chemical TechnologyMumbaiIndia

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