, Volume 180, Issue 4, pp 582–589 | Cite as

Differences in the capacity for radiationless energy dissipation in the photochemical apparatus of green and blue-green algal lichens associated with differences in carotenoid composition

  • Barbara Demmig-Adams
  • William W. AdamsIII
  • Franz-C. Czygan
  • Ulrich Schreiber
  • Otto L. Lange


Green algal lichens, which were able to form zeaxanthin rapidly via the de-epoxidation of violaxanthin, exhibited a high capacity to dissipate excess excitation energy nonradiatively in the antenna chlorophyll as indicated by the development of strong nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence (FM, the maximum yield of fluorescence induced by pulses of saturating light) and, to a lesser extent, FO (the yield of instantaneous fluorescence). Blue-green algal lichens which did not contain any zeaxanthin were incapable of such radiationless energy dissipation and were unable to maintain the acceptor of photosystem II in a low reduction state upon exposure to excessive photon flux densities (PFD). Furthermore, following treatment of the thalli with an inhibitor of the violaxanthin de-epoxidase, dithiothreitol, the response of green algal lichens to light became very similar to that of the blue-green algal lichens. Conversely, blue-green algal lichens which had accumulated some zeaxanthin following long-term exposure to higher PFDs exhibited a response to light which was intermediate between that of zeaxanthin-free blue-green algal lichens and zeaxanthin-containing green algal lichens. Zeaxanthin can apparently be formed in blue-green algal lichens (which lack the xanthophyll epoxides, i.e. violaxanthin and antheraxanthin) as part of the normal biosynthetic pathway which leads to a variety of oxygenated derivatives of β-carotene during exposure to high light over several days. We conclude that the pronounced difference in the capacity for photoprotective energy dissipation in the antenna chlorophyll between (zeaxanthin-containing0 green algal lichens and (zeaxanthin-free) blue-green algal lichens is related to the presence or absence of zeaxanthin, and that this difference can explain the greater susceptibility to high-light stress in lichens with blue-green phycobionts.

Key words

Carotenoids Chlorophyll fluorescence Chlorophyta Cyanobacteria Energy dissipation Lichens Light stress Photoinhibition in phycobionts Phycobiont Zeaxanthin 

Abbreviations and symbols




yield of instantaneous fluorescence


maximum yield of fluorescence induced by pulses of saturating light


variable yield of fluorescence


photon flux density (400–700 nm)


photosystem II


electron acceptor of PSII


quenching coefficient for nonphotochemical fluorescence quenching

qP (or 1-qP)

quenching coefficient for photochemical fluorescence quenching


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Demmig-Adams
    • 1
  • William W. AdamsIII
    • 1
  • Franz-C. Czygan
    • 1
  • Ulrich Schreiber
    • 1
  • Otto L. Lange
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Botanik und Pharmazeutische BiologieUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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