Variations in photosynthetic characteristics of the Antarctic marine brown alga Ascoseira mirabilis in relation to thallus age and size
Growth, photosynthesis, dark respiration, chlorophyll a (Chl a ) content and dry weight were measured in 2- and 3-year-old plants of Ascoseira mirabilis (Ascoseirales), cultivated in the laboratory under changing daylengths which matched the seasonal variations in the Antarctic. Determinations were made in four thallus regions. Growth of A. mirabilis was seasonal, with higher rates in spring. Parameters such as net photosynthesis ( P max ), photosynthetic efficiency (α), both measured on a fresh weight (FW) basis, and dry weight content, showed significant age- and size-dependent variations. In contrast, no variations were observed in dark respiration, initial light-saturating point of photosynthesis ( I k ) and Chl a contents. P max had maximum values close to 16·5 μmol O 2 g -1 FW h -1 in 2-year-old plants, whereas in 3-year-old plants maximum values of 8 μmol O 2 g -1 FW h -1 were determined. The α-values reached maximum rates of 1.4 and 0.6 μmol O 2 g -1 FW h -1 (μmol photons m -2 s -1 ) -1 in 2- and 3-year-old plants, respectively. Light compensation point ( I c ), dry weight ratios and Chl a contents varied significantly along the length of the blade. Maximum dry: fresh weight ratios were observed in the basal region, with values close to 18%. Distal regions of the 3-year-old plants had significantly higher dry weight content than 2-year-old plants (17·5% and 13%, respectively). Chl a concentrations increased towards the middle regions of the thallus to values close to 0·35 mg Chl a g -1 FW. The results indicate that some morpho-functional processes in A. mirabilis , especially net photosynthesis and photosynthetic efficiency, are governed by age of the plant, thereby reflecting differences in biomass allocation and size. Our data also confirm the previously demonstrated relationship between growth and seasonal physiological activity that allows A. mirabilis to survive under the low light conditions prevailing in the Antarctic.
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