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Evidence a photoprotective for secondary carotenoids of snow algae¹

Bidigare, Robert.R., Ondrusek, Michael E., Kennicutt, Mahlon C. II., Iturriaga, Rodolfo, Harvey, H. Rodger, Hoham, Ronald W., Macko, Stephen.A.
Journal of phycology 1993 v.29 no.4 pp. 427-434
Chlamydomonas, absorption, acidity, altitude, ambient temperature, astaxanthin, esterification, esters, fatty acids, habitats, nutrient availability, nutrients, photoinhibition, pigmentation, snow, solar radiation
Snow algae occupy a unique habitat in high altitude and polar environments. These algae are often subject to extremes in nutrient availability, acidity, solar irradiance, desiccation, and ambient temperature. This report documents the accumulation of secondary carotenoids by snow algae in response to the availability of nitrogenous nutrients. Unusually large accumulations of astaxanthin esters in extra‐chloroplastic lipid globules produce the characteristics red pigmentation typical of some snow algae (e.g. Chlamydomonas nivalis (Bauer) Wille). Consequently these compounds greatly reduce the amount of light available for absorption by the light‐harvesting pigment‐protein complexes, thus potentially limiting photoinhibition and photodamage caused by intense solar radiation. The esterification of astaxnthin with fatty acids represents a possible mechanism by which this chromophore can be concentrated within cytoplasmic globules to maximize its photoprotective efficiency.