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Unresolved quenching mechanisms of chlorophyll fluorescence may invalidate MT saturating pulse analyses of photosynthetic electron transfer in microalgae

Havurinne, Vesa, Mattila, Heta, Antinluoma, Mikko, Tyystjärvi, Esa
Physiologia plantarum 2019 v.166 no.1 pp. 365-379
Phaeodactylum tricornutum, benzoquinones, chlorophyll, electron transfer, fluorescence, geometry, microalgae, oxidation, photoinhibition, photosystem II, plankton
Chlorophyll a fluorescence is a powerful tool for estimating photosynthetic efficiency, but there are still unanswered questions that hinder the use of its full potential. The present results describe a caveat in estimation of photosynthetic performance with so‐called rapid light curves (RLCs) with pulse amplitude modulation fluorometers. RLCs of microalgae show a severe decrease in photosynthetic performance in high light, although a similar decrease cannot be seen with other methods. We show that this decrease cannot be assigned to energy‐dependent non‐photochemical quenching or photoinhibition or to the geometry of the algal sample. The measured decrease in electron transfer rate is small in the tested siphonaceuous algae and higher plants, but very notable in all planktonic species, exhibiting species‐dependent variation in extent and reversibility. We performed in‐depth analysis of the phenomenon in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, in which the decrease is the most pronounced and reversible among the tested organisms. The results suggest that quenching of fluorescence by oxidized plastoquinone alone cannot explain the phenomenon, and alternative quenching mechanisms within PSII need to be considered.