Optimization of pigment content and the limits of photoacclimation for Ulva rotundata (Chlorophyta)
Two vegetative clones (designated 11/85 and 7/86 in accordance with month/year of collection) of the chlorophyte macroalga Ulva rotundata were collected in the vicinity of Beaufort, North Carolina, USA. Each was grown in an outdoor continuous-flow system in summer (>-20°C) of 1986 and late winter (10° to 17°C) of 1987 in graded scalar quantum irradiances ranging from 9 to 100% of full sunlight, with and without NH4+enrichment. The pigment content of plants from each irradiance was determined following 4 to 8 d sunny weather. Chlorophyll (chl) and carotenoid content were inverse curvilinear functions of irradiance. The chl a:b and carotenoid: chl ratios were positively related to irradiance. The close nonlinear relationship between chl (a+b) and the chl a:b ratio was independent of clone, temperature or NH4+-enrichment. Chl (a+b) content was linearly correlated with light-regulated growth rate in the summer, but showed a marked hysteresis in the relationship in winter due to photoinhibition. The photon growth yield (PGY, i.e., the biomass yield per unit absorbed light) was maximal for plants grown at slightly subsaturating irradiances, and dropped off sharply at lower irradiances. At higher irradiances, PGY declined gradually in summer and markedly in winter. Light absorption exceeded growth needs at full sunlight, suggesting that U. rotundata was incapable of further reducing its pigment content when growth rate was light-saturated. This, along with the linear chlgrowth relationship, is consistent with photosynthetic feedback regulation of chl content. Regardless of the mechanism, chl regulation may operate within the constraints of a resource tradeoff between light harvesting and carboxylation capacities, such that pigmentation must be optimized rather than maximized. © 1989 Springer-Verlag.
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