Marine Biology

, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 489–497 | Cite as

Quantum yield, relative specific absorption and fluorescence in nitrogen-limited Chaetoceros gracilis

  • J. S. Cleveland
  • M. J. Perry


Decreases in cell-nitrogen quota resulted in changes in the carbon-based quantum yield of photosynthesis, the chlorophyll a-specific absorption coefficient, and in vivo fluorescence in the marine diatom Chaetoceros gracilis in laboratory experiments performed in 1983 and 1984. The three parameters were independently determined for the two spectral regions dominated by either chlorophyll a or fucoxanthin absorption. As cell-nitrogen quota decreased, the quantum yield for both pigments decreased; the specific absorption coefficient for chlorophyll a and the in vivo chlorophyll a fluorescence excited by each pigment increased. The observed increase in the in vivo fluorescence per chlorophyll a could be partially attributed to the increased specific absorption coefficient for chlorophyll a; the remainder of the fluorescence increase was related to a decline in photosystem activity. Energy transfer efficiency between light-harvesting pigments appeared to be maintained as cell-nitrogen quota decreased. The decrease in a fluorescence index [(FDCMU-FO)/FDCMU] with nitrogen starvation suggested a decrease in Photosystem II activity. These results imply that decreases in reaction center and/or electron-transport system activity were responsible for the decline in rates of photosynthesis under conditions of notrogen deficiency.


Photosynthesis Quantum Yield Nitrogen Starvation Fucoxanthin Energy Transfer Efficiency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Alberte, R. S., A. L. Friedman, D. L., Gustafson, M. S. Rudnick and H. Lyman: Light-harvesting systems of brown algae and diatoms. Isolation and characterization of chlorophyll a/c and chlorophyll a/fucoxanthin pigment-protein complexes. Biochim. biophys. Acta 635, 304–316 (1981)Google Scholar
  2. Alpine, A. E. and J. E. Cloern: Differences in in vivo fluorescence yield between three phytoplankton size classes. J. Plankton Res. 7, 381–390 (1985)Google Scholar
  3. Bannister, T. T.: Production equations in terms of chlorophyll concentration, quantum yield, and upper limit to production. Limnol. Oceanogr. 19, 1–12 (1974)Google Scholar
  4. Bannister, T. T. and A. D. Weidemann: The maximum quantum yield of phytoplankton photosynthesis in situ. J. Plankton Res. 6, 275–294 (1984)Google Scholar
  5. Barrett, J. and J. M. Anderson: The P-700-chlorophyll a-protein complex and two major light-harvesting complexes of Acrocarpia paniculata and other brown seaweeds. Biochim. biophys. Acta 590, 309–323 (1980)Google Scholar
  6. Blasco, D. and R. Dexter: Spectrophotometric and fluorescence determinations. Spec. Rep. Dep. Oceanogr. Univ. Wash. 52, 102–108 (1972)Google Scholar
  7. Butler, W. L.: Energy distribution in the photochemical apparatus of photosynthesis. A. Rev. Pl. Physiol. 29, 345–378 (1978)Google Scholar
  8. Chalup, M. S. and E. A. Laws: The effect of nutrient limitation and irradiance on the photosynthetic performance of Pavlova lutheri. Abstr. Am. Soc. Limnol. Oceanogr. June 23–26 (1986)Google Scholar
  9. Cullen, J.J. and E.J. Renger: Continuous measurement of the DCMU-induced fluorescence response of natural phytoplankton populations. Mar. Biol. 53, 13–20 (1979)Google Scholar
  10. Droop, M. R.: Vitamin B12 and marine ecology. IV. The kinetics of uptake, growth and inhibition in Monochrysis lutheri. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 48, 689–733 (1968)Google Scholar
  11. Droop, M. R.: Fluorescence and the light/nutrient interaction in Minochrysis. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 65, 221–237 (1985)Google Scholar
  12. Dubinsky, Z. and T. Berman: Light utilization by phytoplankton in Lake Kinneret (Israel). Limnol. Oceanogr. 26, 660–670 (1981)Google Scholar
  13. Dubinsky, Z., T. Berman and F. Schanz: Field experiments for in situ measurement of photosynthetic efficiency and quantum yield. J. Plankton Res. 6, 339–349 (1984)Google Scholar
  14. Eppley, R. W. and E. H. Renger: Nitrogen assimilation of an oceanic diatom in nitrogen-limited continuous culture. J. Phycol. 10, 15–23 (1974)Google Scholar
  15. Falkowski, P. and D. A. Kiefer: Chlorophyll a fluorescence in phytoplankton: relationship to photosynthesis and biomass. J. Plankton Res. 7, 715–731 (1985)Google Scholar
  16. Friederich, G. E. and T. E. Whitledge: AutoAnalyzer procedures for nutrients. Spec. Rep. Dep. Oceanogr. Univ. Wash. 52, 38–55 (1972)Google Scholar
  17. Glasstone, S.: Textbook of physical chemistry 1320 pp. New York: D. Van Nostrand Co. Inc. 1946Google Scholar
  18. Goldman, J. C. and J. J. McCarthy: Steady state growth and ammonium uptake of a fast-growing marine diatom. Limnol. Oceanogr. 23, 695–703 (1978)Google Scholar
  19. Harris, G. B.: Photosynthesis, productivity and growth: the physiological ecology of phytoplankton. Arch. Hydrobiol. 10, 1–170 (1978)Google Scholar
  20. Haxo, F. T.: The wavelength dependence of photosynthesis and the role of accessory pigments. In: Comparative biochemistry of photoreactive systems, pp 339–360. Ed. by M. B. Allen. New York: Academic Press 1960Google Scholar
  21. Haxo, F. and L. Blinks: Photosynthetic action spectra of marine algae. J. gen. Physiol. 33, 389–422 (1950)Google Scholar
  22. Heaney, S. I.: Some observations on the use of the in vivo fluorescence technique to determine chlorophyll a in natural populations and cultures of freshwater phytoplankton. Freshwat. Biol. 8, 115–126 (1978)Google Scholar
  23. Jeffrey, S. W. and G. F. Humphrey: New spectrophotometric equations for determining chlorophylls a, b, c 1 and c 2 in higher plants, algae, and natural phytoplankton. Biochem. Physiol. Pfl. 167, 191–194 (1975)Google Scholar
  24. Kiefer, D. A.: Fluorescence properties of natural phytoplankton populations. Mar. Biol. 22, 263–269 (1973a)Google Scholar
  25. Kiefer, D. A.: Chlorophyll a fluorescence in marine centric diatoms: responses of chloroplasts to light and nutrient stress. Mar. Biol. 23, 39–46 (1973b)Google Scholar
  26. Kiefer, D. A. and R. E. Hodson: Effects of nitrogen stress upon the photosynthetic rate and fluorescence of Thalassiosira pseudonana. In: Research on the marine food chain, pp 33–39. Institute of Marine Resources, University of California 1974. (Rep. No. 74-7; unpublished manuscript. Copies available from: University of California, Institute of Marine Resources, A-018, La Jolla, Calif. 92093, USA)Google Scholar
  27. Kiefer, D. A. and B. G. Mitchell: A simple, steady state description of phytoplankton growth based on absorption cross section and quantum efficiency. Limnol. Oceanogr. 28, 770–776 (1983)Google Scholar
  28. Kirk, J. T. O.: A theoretical analysis of the contribution of algal cells to the attenuation of light within natural waters. I. General treatment of suspensions of pigmented cells. New Phytol. 75, 11–20 (1975)Google Scholar
  29. Lavergne, J.: Mode of action of 3-(3,4-dichlorphenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea. Evidence that the inhibitor competes with plastoquinone for binding to a common site on the acceptor side of photosystem II. Biochim. biophys. Acta 682, 345–353 (1982)Google Scholar
  30. Laws, E. A. and T. T. Bannister: Nutrient- and light-limited growth of Thalassiosira fluviatilis in continuous culture, with implications for phytoplankton growth in the ocean. Limnol. Oceanogr. 25, 457–473 (1980)Google Scholar
  31. Mann, J. E. and J. Myers: On pigments, growth and photosynthesis of Phaeodactylum tricornutum. J. Phycol. 4, 349–355 (1968)Google Scholar
  32. Manny, B. A.: The relationship between organic nitrogen and the carotenoid to chlorophyll a ratio in five freshwater phytoplankton species. Limnol. Oceanogr. 14, 69–79 (1969)Google Scholar
  33. Marra, J. and E. O. Hartwig: BIOWATT: a study of bioluminescence and optical variability in the sea. Trans. Am. geophys. Un. 65, 732–733 (1984)Google Scholar
  34. Morel, A.: Available, usable, and stored radiant energy in relation to marine photosynthesis. Deep-Sea Res. 25, 673–688 (1978)Google Scholar
  35. Morel, A. and A. Bricaud: Theoretical results concerning light absorption in a discrete medium, and application to specific absorption of phytoplankton. Deep Sea Res. 28A, 1375–1393 (1981)Google Scholar
  36. Öquist, G., A. Hagström, P. Alm, G. Samuelsson and K. Richardson: Chlorophyll a fluorescence, and alternative method for estimating primary production. Mar. Biol. 68, 71–75 (1982)Google Scholar
  37. Perry, M. J., J. C. Smith, M. C. Talbot and N. A. Welschmeyer: Nitrogen limitation in marine phytoplankton: response of the photosynthetic apparatus. (In preparation, a)Google Scholar
  38. Perry, M. J., J. C. Smith and N. A. Welschmeyer: Resource exploitation in phytoplankton: the role of photosynthetic nitrogen. (In preparation, b)Google Scholar
  39. Perry, M. J., M. C. Talbot and R. S. Alberte: Photoadaptation in marine phytoplankton: response of the photosynthetic unit. Mar. Biol. 62, 91–101 (1981)Google Scholar
  40. Platt, T. and A. D. Jassby: The relationship between photosynthesis and light for natural assemblages of coastal marine phytoplankton. J. Phycol. 12, 421–426 (1976)Google Scholar
  41. Prézelin, B. B.: Light reactions in photosynthesis. Can. Bull. Fish. aquat. Sciences 210, 1–43 (1981)Google Scholar
  42. Prézelin, B. B.: Effects of light intensity on aging of the dinoflagellate Gonyaulax polyedra. Mar. Biol. 69, 129–135 (1982)Google Scholar
  43. Prézelin, B. B. and F. T. Haxo: Purification and characterization of peridinin-chlorophyll a-proteins from the marine dinoflagellates Glenodinium sp. and Gonyaulax polyedra. Planta 128, 133–141 (1976)Google Scholar
  44. Prézelin, B. B. and A. C. Ley: Photosynthesis and chlorophyll a fluorescence rhythms of marine phytoplankton. Mar. Biol. 55, 295–307 (1980)Google Scholar
  45. Prézelin, B. B. and H. A. Matlick: Nutrient-dependent low-light adaptation in the dinoflagellate Gonyaulax polyedra. Mar. Biol. 74, 141–150 (1983)Google Scholar
  46. Privoznik, K. G., K. J. Daniel and F. P. Incropera: Absorption, extinction and phase function measurements for algal suspensions of Chlorella pyrenoidosa. J. quantive Spectrosc. radiatve Transf. 20, 345–352 (1978)Google Scholar
  47. Ramus, J.: A physiological test of the theory of complementary chromatic adaptation. II. Brown, green and red seaweeds. J. Phycol. 19, 173–178 (1983)Google Scholar
  48. Ramus, J., F. Lemons and C. Zimmermann: Adaptation of light-harvesting pigments to downwelling light and the consequent photosynthetic performance of the eulittoral rockweeds Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus. Mar. Biol. 42, 293–303 (1977)Google Scholar
  49. Ryther, J. H. and W. M. Dunstan: Nitrogen, phosphorus, and eutrophication in the coastal marine environments. Science, N.Y. 171, 1008–1013 (1971)Google Scholar
  50. Samuelsson, G. and G. Öquist: A method for studying photosynthetic capacities of unicellular algae based on in vivo chlorophyll fluorescence. Physiologia Pl. 40, 315–319 (1977)Google Scholar
  51. Shimura, S. and Y. Fujita: Changes in the activity of fucoxanthin-excited photosynthesis in the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum grown under different culture conditions. Mar. Biol. 33, 185–194 (1975)Google Scholar
  52. Siegelman, H. W., J. H. Kycia and F. T. Haxo: Peridinin-chlorophyll a-proteins of dinoflagellate algae. Brookhaven Symp. Biol. 28, 162–169 (1977)Google Scholar
  53. Song, P. S., P. Koka, B. B. Prézelin and F. T. Haxo: Molecular topology of the photosynthetic light-harvesting pigment complex, peridinin-chlorophyll a-protein, from marine dinoflagellates. Biochemistry (Am. chem. Soc.), Easton, Pa. 15, 4422–4427 (1976)Google Scholar
  54. Strickland, J. D. H. and T. R. Parsons: A practical handbook of sea-water analysis, 2nd ed. Bull. Fish. Res. Bd Can. 167, 1–310 (1972)Google Scholar
  55. Taguchi, S.: Relationship between photosynthesis and cell size of marine diatoms. J. Phycol. 12, 185–189 (1976)Google Scholar
  56. Taguchi, S.: Light utilization efficiencies of phytoplankton in the tropical North Pacific Ocean. Bull. Plankton Soc. Japan 26, 1–10 (1979)Google Scholar
  57. Thomas, W. H. and A. N. Dodson: On nitrogen deficiency in tropical Pacific oceanic phytoplankton. II. Photosynthetic and cellular characteristics of a chemostat-grown diatom. Limnol. Oceanogr. 17, 515–523 (1972)Google Scholar
  58. Tyler, J. E.: The in situ quantum efficiency of natural phytoplankton populations. Limnol. Oceanogr. 20, 976–980 (1975)Google Scholar
  59. Vince, S. and I. Valiela: The effects of ammonium and phosphate enrichments on chlorophyll a, pigment ratio and species composition of phytoplankton of Vineyard Sound. Mar. Biol. 19, 69–73 (1973)Google Scholar
  60. Welschmeyer, N. A. and C. J. Lorenzen: Chlorophyll-specific photosynthesis and quantum efficiency at subsaturating light intensities. J. Phycol. 17, 283–293 (1981)Google Scholar
  61. Yentsch, C. and R. F. Vaccaro: Phytoplankton nitrogen in the oceans. Limnol. Oceanogr. 3, 443–448 (1958)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. S. Cleveland
    • 1
  • M. J. Perry
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Oceanography, WB-10University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations