Photoacclimation by strains of Haslea “blue” diatom species H. ostrearia and H. silbo sp. nov. ined. was investigated with rapid light curves and induction–recovery curves using fast repetition rate fluorescence. Cultures were grown to exponential phase under 50 µmol m−2 s−1 photosynthetic available radiation (PAR) and then exposed to non-sequential rapid light curves where, once electron transport rate (ETR) had reached saturation, light intensity was decreased and then further increased prior to returning to near growth light intensity. The non-sequential rapid light curve revealed that ETR was not proportional to the instantaneously applied light intensity, due to rapid photoacclimation. Changes in the effective absorption cross sections for open PSII reaction centres (σPSII′) or reaction centre connectivity (ρ) did not account for the observed increases in ETR under extended high light. σPSII′ in fact decreased as a function of a time-dependent induction of regulated excitation dissipation Y(NPQ), once cells were at or above a PAR coinciding with saturation of ETR. Instead, the observed increases in ETR under extended high light were explained by an increase in the rate of PSII reopening, i.e. QA − oxidation. This acceleration of electron transport was strictly light dependent and relaxed within seconds after a return to low light or darkness. The time-dependent nature of ETR upregulation and regulated NPQ induction was verified using induction–recovery curves. Our findings show a time-dependent induction of excitation dissipation, in parallel with very rapid photoacclimation of electron transport, which combine to make ETR independent of short-term changes in PAR. This supports a selective advantage for these diatoms when exposed to fluctuating light in their environment.
- Diatom photophysiology
- Electron transport rate