Photosynthesis in modulated light: Quantitative dependence of photosynthetic enhancement on flashing rate



In order to predict the potential benefit associated with mixing devices designed to introduce periodic light modulations in dense cultures of microalgae, it is necessary to develop a quantitative understanding of the relationship between the frequency of the modulations and the resulting photosynthetic efficiency enhancement. To explore this relationship, the photosynthetic rate of cells of Phaeodactylum tricornutum from a dense steady state culture was determined as a function of modulation frequency, intensity of light received, and the proportion of the total cycle period during which the cells were illuminated. At high flash frequencies, the photosynthetic rate was determined by the average intensity received by the cells (full light intensity integration), while at low frequencies the cells responded to the instantaneous intensity (no light intensity integration). Full integration was approached asymptotically with increasing flash frequency. The frequency response could be described by a rectangular hyperbola, and the parameters of this hyperbola were nearly independent of the illumination intensity and the flash proportion. The saturation constant of the hyperbola, at which the response is one-half of the maximum, was 0.67 Hz.