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Photosynth Res. 2008 Jun;96(3):201-15. doi: 10.1007/s11120-008-9300-7. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

Fitting light saturation curves measured using modulated fluorometry.

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School of Biological Sciences A-08, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


A blue diode PAM (Pulse Amplitude Modulation) fluorometer was used to measure rapid Photosynthesis (P) versus Irradiance (E) curves (P vs. E curves) in Synechococcus (classical cyanobacteria), Prochlorothrix (prochlorophyta), Chlorella (chlorophyta), Rhodomonas (cryptophyta), Phaeodactylum (bacillariophyta) Acaryochloris (Chl d/a cyanobacteria) and Subterranean Clover (Trifolium subterraneum, Papilionaceae, Angiospermae). Effective quantum yield (Phi(PSII)) versus irradiance curves could be described by a simple exponential decay function (Phi(PSII) = Phi(PSII, maxe(-kE)) although Log/Log transformation was sometimes found to be necessary to obtain the best fits. Photosynthesis was measured as relative Electron Transport Rate (rETR) standardised on a chlorophyll basis. P versus E curves were fitted to the waiting-in-line function (an equation of the form P = P(max) x k x E x e(-kE)) allowing half-saturating and optimal irradiances (E(optimum)) to be estimated. The second differential of the equation shows that at twice optimal light intensities, there is a point of inflection in the P versus E curve. Photosynthesis is inhibited 26.4% at this point of inflection. The waiting-in-line model was found to be a very good descriptor of photosynthetic light saturation curves and superior to hyperbolic functions with an asymptotic saturation point (Michaelis-Menten, exponential saturation and hyperbolic tangent). The exponential constants (k) of the Phi(PSII) versus E and P versus E curves should be equal because rETR is directly proportional to Phi(PSII) x E. The conventionally calculated Non-Photochemical Quenching (NPQ) in Synechococcus was not significantly different to zero but NPQ versus E curves for the other algae could be fitted to an exponential saturation model. The kinetics of NPQ does not appear to be related to the kinetics of Phi(PSII) or rETR.

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