From the light to the darkness: Thriving at the light extremes in the oceans

Zvy Dubinsky, Oscar Schofield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Light-acclimation processes are central to allowing photosynthesis in aquatic ecosystems to span from high light conditions, that are 10-fold higher than the light levels required to saturate photosynthesis, to the deep sea with extremely low light levels. In dim light systems, nutrient levels are often high, and cells maximize the absorption of light by increasing the cellular pool of pigments. The upper limits of light absorption are constrained by the package effect, which ultimately restricts the benefit of the light absorption associated with an increase in cellular pigmentation, thus decreasing the cost/benefit ratio relative to the metabolic cost of manufacturing cellular light-harvesting pigments. At extremely low light levels in the deep sea, chloroplasts are sequestered in numerous organisms; however, these species are not obligate autotrophs and supplement a heterotrophic/mixotrophic existence with opportunistic autotrophy. While low light acclimation is based on maximizing light absorption, photosynthetic systems under high light, in addition to decreased light-harvesting cross sections, rely on energy-dissipation processes to avoid light-induced damage to the photosynthetic apparatus and other free radical susceptible cell structures. Dissipation of excess light energy represents the largest sink of the absorbed light in high light environments; however, these processes remain largely unstudied and are rarely quantified. Cells supplement their energy-dissipation processes through increasing the capacity to remove high-light-generated radicals and/or inducing vertical movement. Improved understanding of strategies remains central for the understanding of algal distributions in nature and has broad industrial implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-171
Number of pages19
JournalHydrobiologia
Volume639
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We acknowledge the support from the BiNational Science Foundation grant (2002396), the NOAA GOES risk reduction program (NA-108H-E), the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs SEGR program (NSF-ANT 0700990), and the Department of Defense Major University Research Initiative Program (N000140610739). We thank David Mazuerall (Rockefeller University) for his hospitality and Maximum Grobunov (Rutgers University) for his partnership. We also appreciate constructive comments provided by two anonymous reviewers. This study was presented as an invited article at the Bat Sheva de Rothschild seminar on Phytoplankton in the Physical Environment—The 15th Workshop of the International Association of Phytoplankton Taxonomy and Ecology (IAP)—held in Ramot, Israel, November 23–30, 2008.

Funding

Acknowledgments We acknowledge the support from the BiNational Science Foundation grant (2002396), the NOAA GOES risk reduction program (NA-108H-E), the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs SEGR program (NSF-ANT 0700990), and the Department of Defense Major University Research Initiative Program (N000140610739). We thank David Mazuerall (Rockefeller University) for his hospitality and Maximum Grobunov (Rutgers University) for his partnership. We also appreciate constructive comments provided by two anonymous reviewers. This study was presented as an invited article at the Bat Sheva de Rothschild seminar on Phytoplankton in the Physical Environment—The 15th Workshop of the International Association of Phytoplankton Taxonomy and Ecology (IAP)—held in Ramot, Israel, November 23–30, 2008.

FundersFunder number
Department of Defense Major UniversityN000140610739
NSF-ANT0700990
National Science Foundation
National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationNA-108H-E
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2002396

    Keywords

    • Photoacclimation
    • Phytoplankton
    • Pigments
    • Quantum yields

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