Effects of excess light energy on excitation-energy dynamics in a pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

  • Ryo NagaoEmail author
  • Yoshifumi Ueno
  • Makio Yokono
  • Jian-Ren Shen
  • Seiji AkimotoEmail author
Original Article


Controlling excitation energy flow is a fundamental ability of photosynthetic organisms to keep a better performance of photosynthesis. Among the organisms, diatoms have unique light-harvesting complexes, fucoxanthin chlorophyll (Chl) a/c-binding proteins. We have recently investigated light-adaptation mechanisms of a marine centric diatom, Chaetoceros gracilis, by spectroscopic techniques. However, it remains unclear how pennate diatoms regulate excitation energy under different growth light conditions. Here, we studied light-adaptation mechanisms in a marine pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum grown at 30 µmol photons m−2 s−1 and further incubated for 24 h either in the dark, or at 30 or 300 µmol photons m−2 s−1 light intensity, by time-resolved fluorescence (TRF) spectroscopy. The high-light incubated cells showed no detectable oxygen-evolving activity of photosystem II, indicating the occurrence of a severe photodamage. The photodamaged cells showed alterations of steady-state absorption and fluorescence spectra and TRF spectra compared with the dark and low-light adapted cells. In particular, excitation-energy quenching is significantly accelerated in the photodamaged cells as shown by mean lifetime analysis of the Chl fluorescence. These spectral changes by the high-light treatment may result from arrangements of pigment–protein complexes to maintain the photosynthetic performance under excess light illumination. These growth-light dependent spectral properties in P. tricornutum are largely different from those in C. gracilis, thus providing insights into the different light-adaptation mechanisms between the pennate and centric diatoms.


Pennate diatom FCP Low-energy Chl Photoinhibition Time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy 





Dark incubated


Fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c-binding protein


Fluorescence decay-associated


High-light incubated


Low-light incubated


Optical density at 750 nm


Photosynthetic photon flux density


Photosystem I


Photosystem II


Reaction center


Time-resolved fluorescence



This work was supported by the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science JP17K07442 (to R. N.), JP17H06433 (to J.-R. S.), and JP16H06553 (to S. A.).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Graduate School of Natural Science and TechnologyOkayama UniversityOkayamaJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of ScienceKobe UniversityKobeJapan
  3. 3.Nippon Flour Mills Co., LtdInnovation CenterAtsugiJapan

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