MEPS 572:103-116 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12105

Seagrass Halophila ovalis is affected by light quality across different life history stages

Simone Strydom1,2,*, Kathryn McMahon1,2, Gary A. Kendrick2,4, John Statton2,3, Paul S. Lavery1,2,4

1Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research and School of Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia
2Western Australian Marine Science Institution, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
3School of Biological Sciences, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia
4Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 17300 Blanes, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Seagrass meadows provide crucial ecosystem services to the coastal zone but are threatened globally. Seagrass loss to date has mainly been attributed to anthropogenic activities that reduce light quantity (amount of photosynthetic photon flux density), such as dredging, flooding and eutrophication. However, light quality (wavelengths of light within the visible spectrum) is also altered by these anthropogenic stressors. This study addressed the effect of light quality changes on seagrasses. Aquarium-based experiments were conducted to determine whether the seagrass Halophila ovalis (R.Br.) Hook f. responds to different light quality treatments. Separate experiments were performed in which adults, seeds or seedlings were subjected to monochromatic light treatments in the blue (peak λ %= 451 nm), green (peak λ = 522 nm), yellow (peak λ = 596 nm) and red (peak λ = 673 nm) wavelengths with a control of full-spectrum light (λ = 400 - 700 nm, at 200 µmol photons m-2 s-1). This study is unique in that it measured seagrass responses to light across several plant scales (physiology, productivity, morphology and biomass) as well as across life-history stages (seeds, seedlings, adults and flowering). Adult plants responded differently to seeds and seedlings but were generally consistent with terrestrial angiosperms: blue light decreased below-ground productivity; green light influenced morphology (through increased rhizome internode length); red light enhanced seed germination and survival. The findings indicate that both natural and human-induced changes in light quality could significantly affect seagrass growth and reproduction. As a range of anthropogenic activities are currently contributing to the global losses of seagrasses, this research provides timely information on how light quality influences different seagrass life history stages.


KEY WORDS: Light quality · Photomorphogenesis · Plant growth · Seagrass · Seed germination · Seedling survival


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Cite this article as: Strydom S, McMahon K, Kendrick GA, Statton J, Lavery PS (2017) Seagrass Halophila ovalis is affected by light quality across different life history stages. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 572:103-116. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12105

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