Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 305–310 | Cite as

Changes in pigmentation of phytoplankton species during growth and stationary phase — consequences for reliability of pigment-based methods of biomass determination

  • Christian Wilhelm
  • Lieselotte Manns


In applied water ecology several methods for estimating the biomass or activity of phytoplankton depend on the proportion of accessory pigments (xanthophylls) to chlorophyll a. Therefore, changes in pigmentation during growth and stationary phase were investigated in four different species (Amphidinium klebsii, Euglena gracilis, Prymnesium parvum, Cryptomonas ovata) typical representatives of the major algal groups. The ratios of the different xanthophylls to chlorophyll a depended not only on the growth phase, but also on the species. InAmphidinium andEuglena, the ratio of xanthophylls to chlorophyll rises continuously during the growth phase and declined during the stationary phase. InPrymnesium, quantitative pigmentation was found to be nearly independent of the growth phase. InCryptomonas, however, this ratio was relatively constant during growth, but increased in the stationary phase. In contrast to higher plants, in which the breakdown of chlorophylls occurs before that of the xanthophylls, in three of the species both pigment classes were reduced in parallel when the cultures were in the stationary phase. AgingCryptomonas, however, exhibited a pigment breakdown pattern similar to higher plants. The use of these findings for the widely applied biomass determination by chlorophyll fluorescence and for other pigment-based methods is discussed.

Key words

fluorescence growth pigments phytoplankton population dynamics 



















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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Wilhelm
    • 1
  • Lieselotte Manns
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Allgemeine Botanik, Universität MainzMainzGermany

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