, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 711–722 | Cite as

Review: the Antarctic Chlamydomonas raudensis: an emerging model for cold adaptation of photosynthesis

  • Jenna M. Dolhi
  • Denis P. Maxwell
  • Rachael M. Morgan-Kiss


Permanently cold habitats dominate our planet and psychrophilic microorganisms thrive in cold environments. Environmental adaptations unique to psychrophilic microorganisms have been thoroughly described; however, the vast majority of studies to date have focused on cold-adapted bacteria. The combination of low temperatures in the presence of light is one of the most damaging environmental stresses for a photosynthetic organism: in order to survive, photopsychrophiles (i.e. photosynthetic organisms adapted to low temperatures) balance temperature-independent reactions of light energy capture/transduction with downstream temperature-dependent metabolic processes such as carbon fixation. Here, we review research on photopsychrophiles with a focus on an emerging model organism, Chlamydomonas raudensis UWO241 (UWO241). UWO241 is a psychrophilic green algal species and is a member of the photosynthetic microbial eukaryote community that provides the majority of fixed carbon for ice-covered lake ecosystems located in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. The water column exerts a range of environmental stressors on the phytoplankton community that inhabits this aquatic ecosystem, including low temperatures, extreme shade of an unusual spectral range (blue-green), high salinity, nutrient deprivation and extremes in seasonal photoperiod. More than two decades of work on UWO241 have produced one of our most comprehensive views of environmental adaptation in a cold-adapted, photosynthetic microbial eukaryote.


Antarctica Microbial eukaryote Psychrophile Photosynthesis 



Complementary DNA




Activation energy


East lobe Bonney


Heat shock proteins


Ice-binding proteins


Catalytic constant


Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes


Light-harvesting complex






Photosystem I


Photosystem II


Nitrate reductase


Quinone A


Reduced or oxidized quinone A


Energy-dependent quenching


Quantitative PCR


Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase


Maximum growth temperature


West lobe Bonney


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenna M. Dolhi
    • 1
  • Denis P. Maxwell
    • 2
  • Rachael M. Morgan-Kiss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWestern UniversityLondonCanada

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