Different strategies of photoacclimation by two strains of Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyta)1


  • 1

    Received 4 September 2006. Accepted 19 June 2007.


Photoacclimation involves the modification of components of the light and dark reactions to optimize photosynthesis following changes in available light. All of the energy required for photosynthesis comes from linear electron transport through PSII and PSI and is dependent upon the amount of light harvested by PSII relative to PSI (a*PSII and a*PSI). The amount of light harvested is determined by the effective absorption cross-sections (σPSII, σPSI) and cellular contents of the PSII and PSI reaction center complexes (RCII, RCI). Here, we examine the effective absorption cross-sections and reaction center contents for calcifying (B11) and noncalcifying (B92) strains of the globally important coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) W. H. Hay et H. Mohler when grown under various photon flux densities (PFDs). The two strains displayed different “strategies” of acclimation. As growth PFD increased, B11 preferentially changed σ and the cellular content of chl a per cell over PSU “size” (the total cellular chl a content associated with the reaction center complexes); strain B92 preferentially changed PSU size over the cellular content of reaction complexes. Neither strategy was specifically consistent with the majority of previous studies from other microalgal species. For both strains, cellular light absorption for PSII and PSI was maintained close to unity across the range of growth PFDs since changes of σPSII and σPSI were reciprocated by those of RCIIs and RCIs per cell. Our results demonstrate a significant adaptive flexibility of E. huxleyi to photoacclimate. Finally, we calculated the amount of chl a associated with either photosystem to consider our interpretations of photoacclimation based on conventional determinations of PSU size.