In situ seagrass photosynthesis measured using a submersible, pulse-amplitude modulated fluorometer
Assessments of photosynthetic activity in marine plants can now be made in situ using a newly developed, submersible, pulse-amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometer: Diving-PAM. PAM fluorometry provides a measure of chlorophyll a fluorescence using rapid-light curves in which the electron-transport rate can be determined for plants exposed to ambient light conditions. This technique was used to compare the photosynthetic responses of seagrasses near Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Several fluorescence parameters were measured as a function of time of day and water depth; electron-transport rate (ETR), quantum yield, photochemical quenching and non-photochemical quenching and Photosystem II (PSII) photochemical efficiency (F-v:F-m ratio) were measured. Results indicate that recent light-history plays a crucial role in seagrass photosynthetic responses. Maximum ETR of Posidonia australis, Amphibolis antarctica and Halophila ovalis is influenced by the irradiance during the diurnal cycle, with low rates at dawn and dusk (<10 mu mol electron m(-2) s(-1)), highest rates in late morning (40 to 60 mu mol electron m(-2) s(-1)) and a mid-day depression. Maximum ETR and PSII photochemical efficiency varied widely between seagrass species and were not correlated. A comparison of photochemical to non-photochemical quenching indicated that seagrasses in shallow water receiving high light have a high capacity for non-photochemical quenching (e.g. light protection) compared to seagrasses in deep water. These results indicate that in situ measurements of photosynthesis will provide new insights into the mechanisms and adaptive responses of marine plants.
Keywords: chlorophyll fluorescence, photoinhibition, temperature, responses, , yield, light