Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Photosynth Res. 2010 Feb;103(2):125-37. doi: 10.1007/s11120-009-9526-z.

Physiological optimization underlies growth rate-independent chlorophyll-specific gross and net primary production.

Author information

  • 1Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, 97330, USA.


Characterization of physiological variability in phytoplankton photosynthetic efficiencies is one of the greatest challenges in assessing ocean net primary production (NPP) from remote sensing of surface chlorophyll (Chl). Nutrient limitation strongly influences phytoplankton intracellular pigmentation, but its impact on Chl-specific NPP (NPP(*)) is debated. We monitored six indices of photosynthetic activity in steady-state Dunaliella tertiolecta cultures over a range of nitrate-limited growth rates (μ), including photosynthetic efficiency of PSII (F(v)/F(m)), O(2)-based gross and net production, 20 min and 24 h carbon assimilation, and carbon- and μ-based NPP. Across all growth rates, O(2)-based Chl-specific gross primary production (GPP(*)(O(2))), NPP(*), and F(v)/F(m) were constant. GPP(*)(O(2)) was 3.3 times greater than NPP(*). In stark contrast, Chl-specific short-term C fixation showed clear linear dependence on μ, reflecting differential allocation of photosynthate between short-lived C products and longer-term storage products. Indeed, (14)C incorporation into carbohydrates was five times greater in cells growing at 1.2 day(-1) than 0.12 day(-1). These storage products are catabolized for ATP and reductant generation within the period of a cell cycle. The relationship between Chl-specific gross and net O(2) production, short-term (14)C-uptake, NPP(*), and growth rate reflects cellular-level regulation of fundamental metabolic pathways in response to nutrient limitation. We conclude that growth rate-dependent photosynthate metabolism bridges the gap between gross and net production and resolves a controversial question regarding nutrient limitation effects on primary production measures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Springer
    Loading ...
    Support Center