Marine Biology

, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 183–190 | Cite as

Inhibition of photosynthesis by ultraviolet radiation as a function of dose and dosage rate: Results for a marine diatom

  • J. J. Cullen
  • M. P. Lesser


The effects of ultraviolet radiation on phytoplankton are usually described as a function of dose (J m−2, weighted appropriately). Experiments conducted in 1988 and 1989 on a marine diatom,Thalassiosira pseudonana (Clone 3H), demonstrate that during lightlimited photosynthesis in visible radiation, the inhibition of photosynthesis by supplemental ultraviolet radiation (principally UV-B: 280 to 320 nm) is a function of irradiance (W m−2) as well as of dose: for equal doses of UV-B, a relatively short exposure to high UV-B irradiance is more damaging to photosynthesis than a longer exposure to lower irradiance. In fact, photoinhibition by UV-B is well described as a monotonic, nonlinear function of irradiance for time scales of 0.5 to 4 h. A nitrate-limited culture was about nine times more sensitive to UV-B than was a nutrient-replete culture, but the kinetics of photoinhibition were similar. These results have some bearing on efforts to describe the effects of ultraviolet radiation on marine primary productivity. Action spectra of photoinhibition by UV can be constructed, but they should only be used to describe photoinhibition for specified time scales. Vertical profiles of relative photoinhibition must be interpreted cautiously because photoinhibition by UV-B is likely to be a function of incubation time and results must therefore be interpreted in the context of vertical mixing.


Phytoplankton Photosynthesis Vertical Profile Ultraviolet Radiation Action Spectrum 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Cullen
    • 1
  • M. P. Lesser
    • 1
  1. 1.Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean SciencesWest Boothbay HarborUSA

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