Photoacclimation, photosynthesis, and growth in phytoplankton

Ronny Herzig, Zvy Dubinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In this study we have followed various aspects of the photoacclimation of Synechococcus leopoliensis, Isocrysis galbana, and Scenedesmus quadricauda grown at different irradiances. These included changes in the biochemistry, physiology, and ecological fitness of the cells. As cells adapted to lower growth-irradiance levels, chlorophyll (chi) a per cell increased 2.3-7.4-fold. The photosynthetic apparatus changed by increasing the photosynthetic unit size, or the number of reaction centers per cell. The values of the in vivo spectral average, effective optical-absorption cross section (°a*) showed an opposite trend, ranging from 0.010 m2mg-1chi a at 15 pinole quanta nr2s-1to 0.097 m2mg-1chi a at 600 pmole quanta m-2s-1. The maximum quantum yield, (Φ)max, increased consistently as growth irradiance decreased from 600 to 15 pmole quanta m2s-1. Light-saturated rates of photosynthesis were considerably higher in all high-light grown cultures than in low-light ones. Respiration rate is greater at high irradiances than at low. We propose an integrated view, relating the measured parameters and their interrelations in these organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-212
Number of pages14
JournalIsrael Journal of Botany
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1992


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