• acclimation;
  • β-oxidation;
  • dark cultivation;
  • isocitrate lyase;
  • membrane lipids;
  • triacylglycerides

The dinoflagellate Prorocentrum minimum (Pavillard) Schiller is known to be a major bloom-causing microalga in the southern ocean of the Korean peninsula. The acclimation of this alga to darkness for 10 days was investigated by analyzing the content of various lipids, such as phospholipid (PL), galactolipid (GL), and triacylglyceride (TAG). Actively growing cultures of the alga under normal growth conditions (14:10 h LD [light:dark] cycle) were transferred to a growth chamber under conditions of no light and no carbon sources in the medium, and the culture was continued for another 10 days. The results showed that the content of TAG and GL decreased gradually during dark incubation, whereas the total PL content changed little; PC, PE, and PG decreased; and PS, PA, and PI increased. An increase in the activity of β-oxidation and isocitrate lyase (ICL, a glyoxylate cycle enzyme) paralleled the decrease of TAG and GL. These observations strongly suggested that TAG and GL were utilized as alternative carbon sources by the cells under the prolonged dark cultivation. Light treatment of the cells cultivated in the dark for 10 days allowed them to attain the lipid composition that was observed in cells grown in light. These results strongly suggested that the cells maintained their metabolic integrity without unrecoverable cellular damages or cell death during 10 days of dark cultivation.