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Temperature effects on photosynthetic performance of Antarctic lichen Dermatocarpon polyphyllizum: a chlorophyll fluorescence study


Chlorophyll fluorescence is an important indicator of a photosynthetic energy conversion in chloroplast photosystem II and responds sensitively to stress factors affecting photosynthesizing organisms. Three different methods were employed to identify the most sensitive fluorescence parameters responding to thallus temperature decrease within Antarctic lichen Dermatocarpon polyphyllizum: (1) Fast chlorophyll fluorescence transient (OJIP with parameters characterizing photosystem II functioning) (2) Slow Kautsky kinetics supplemented by saturation pulses (to evaluate quantum yield of photosynthetic processes in photosystem II, as well as maximum quantum PSII efficiency and non-photochemical and photochemical quenching), and (3) Linear cooling from + 22 to − 40 °C (to determine change in ΦPSII and the critical temperature for PSII). A K-step (usually documented at highly stressed organisms) was found in OJIPs measured at + 22 °C at 0.22–0.40 ms and attributed to the negative effect of high temperature on PSII functioning, PSII donor side limitation in particular. At subzero temperature (− 0.5, − 5 °C), an L-step was detected at 0.05 ms and related to a low temperature-induced decrease in connectivity between light-harvesting complexes and PSII. An increase of DI0/RC (the flux of dissipated excitation energy) was reported for the first time in lichens. The OJIP-derived parameters, DI0/RC and Phi_D0 (quantum yield of energy dissipation) in particular, indicated that they might be used for the detection of early events in low temperature-affected lichens. Linear cooling data determined the critical temperature (− 12 °C) for primary photosynthetic processes (ΦPSII) in Dermatocarpon.

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Chlorophyll fluorescence


Dark adapted


Kautsky kinetics


Light adapted


Light-harvesting complexes


Fast chlorophyll fluorescence transient


Performance (vitality) Index




Reaction center


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The authors are grateful to the CzechPolar-2 infrastructure (LM2015078) that enabled sample collection and handling. The experimental part of our work was undertaken in the EEL laboratory (CzechPolar infrastructure) and supported by the ECOPOLARIS Project (CZ0.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_013/0001708). The authors are also very grateful to Peter Váczi (Masaryk University, Brno), who greatly assisted us with the statistical testing of our results and to Richard Alan Zimmerman (Masaryk University, Brno), who provided the language correction.

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Correspondence to Josef Hájek.

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Marečková, M., Barták, M. & Hájek, J. Temperature effects on photosynthetic performance of Antarctic lichen Dermatocarpon polyphyllizum: a chlorophyll fluorescence study. Polar Biol 42, 685–701 (2019).

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  • Diplosphaera sp.
  • OJIP
  • K-step
  • Kautsky kinetic
  • Linear cooling
  • Photosystem II