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Behavioural versus physiological photoprotection in epipelic and epipsammic benthic diatoms
Blommaert, L.; Lavaud, J.; Vyverman, W.; Sabbe, K. (2018). Behavioural versus physiological photoprotection in epipelic and epipsammic benthic diatoms. Eur. J. Phycol. 53(2): 146-155.
In: European Journal of Phycology. Cambridge University Press/Taylor & Francis: Cambridge. ISSN 0967-0262; e-ISSN 1469-4433, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Bacillariophyceae [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Diatom, microphytobenthos, non-photochemical quenching, photoprotection, trade-off, vertical migration

Authors  Top 
  • Blommaert, L., more
  • Lavaud, J.
  • Vyverman, W., more
  • Sabbe, K., more

    Benthic diatoms are dominant primary producers in intertidal marine sediments, which are characterized by widely fluctuating and often extreme light conditions. To cope with sudden increases in light intensity, benthic diatoms display both behavioural and physiological photoprotection mechanisms. Behavioural photoprotection is restricted to raphid pennate diatoms, which possess a raphe system that enables motility and hence positioning in sediment light gradients (e.g. via vertical migration into the sediment). The main physiological photoprotection mechanism is to dissipate excess light energy as heat, measured as Non-Photochemical Quenching (NPQ) of chlorophyll fluorescence. A trade-off between vertical migration and physiological photoprotection (NPQ) in benthic diatoms has been hypothesized before, but this has never been formally tested. We exposed five epipelic diatom species (which move in between sediment particles) and four epipsammic diatom species (which live in close association with individual sand grains) to high light conditions, and characterized both NPQ and the relative magnitude of the migratory response to high light. Our results reveal the absence of a significant downward migratory response in an araphid diatom, but also in several raphid epipsammic diatoms, while all epipelic species showed a significant migratory response upon high light exposure. In all epipsammic species the upregulation of NPQ was rapid and pronounced; NPQ relaxation in low light conditions, however, occurred faster in the araphid diatom, compared with the raphid epipsammic species. In contrast, all epipelic species lacked a strong and flexible NPQ response and showed higher susceptibility to photodamage when not able to migrate. While overall our results support the vertical migration-NPQ trade-off, the lack of strong relationships between the capacity for vertical migration and NPQ within the epipsammic and epipelic groups suggests that other factors as well, such as cell size, substrate type and photoacclimation, may influence photoprotective strategies.

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