Photoacclimation of the seagrass Halophila stipulacea to the dim irradiance at its 48-meter depth limit

Sharon, Yoni, Orly Levitan, Dina Spungin, Ilana Berman-Frank, and Sven Beer

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(1), 2011, 357-362 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.1.0357

ABSTRACT: The seagrass Halophila stipulacea grows in the northern Red Sea from the intertidal to depths of ~ 50 m. Along that gradient, there is a > 1 order of magnitude difference in irradiance and the spectrum narrows from that of full sunlight to dim blue-green light. Based on these differences, we set out to estimate the molar ratios and potential contributions of photosystem II (PSII) and photosystem I (PSI) to light absorption, and photosynthetic electron transport rates (ETR), in plants growing at 1-m and 48-m depths. The amount of PsaC (a proxy for PSI) was three times higher in the deep-growing plants. On the other hand, the amount of PsbA (a proxy for PSII) did not differ significantly between the two depths. Thus, the PSII : (PSII + PSI) ratio (FII) was 0.62 in the shallow and 0.41 in the deep-growing plants. Similar results were obtained by 77K emission fluorescence. Because ETR is linearly dependent on FII, it follows that the ETR vs. irradiance curves differed significantly if calculated based on the commonly used FII value of 0.5 or the FII values we found. As a result, the photosynthetic parameters ETRmax and α also differed when using the different FII values. Correct(ed) FII values should, therefore, be used in the calculation of photosynthetic ETRs. The ability of H. stipulacea to alter its amount of PSI relative to PSII according to the ambient irradiance and spectrum may be one reason why this organism can grow down to its exceptional depth limit in clear tropical waters.

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