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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 376:1-19 (2009)  -  DOI:

Interpretation of fast repetition rate (FRR) fluorescence: signatures of phytoplankton community structure versus physiological state

David J. Suggett1,*, C. Mark Moore2, Anna E. Hickman3, Richard J. Geider1

1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ, UK
2National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
3Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Joseph Proudman Building, 6 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L3 5DA, UK

ABSTRACT: Introduction of active chlorophyll a fluorescence protocols, in particular fast repetition rate (FRR) fluorometry, to oceanography and limnology 15 yr ago has enabled rapid assessment of photosynthetic physiology in situ. The FRR protocol generates simultaneous measurements of Photosystem II (PSII) effective absorption cross sections (termed σPSII) and photochemical efficiency (termed Fv/Fm). Both Fv/Fm and σPSII measurements have been utilised to examine the effects of physiological stress on the photosynthetic apparatus of phytoplankton in an ever growing number of fluorescence-based studies. However, it is now becoming clearer that in situ values of Fv/Fm and σPSII also contain taxonomic information. Here, we present a synthesis of previously unpublished and published data, which show that Fv/Fm and σPSII vary principally with broad-scale changes in community structure. These patterns observed in situ conform to trends observed in laboratory-grown cultures of a range of phytoplankton taxa. The magnitudes of variability in Fv/Fm and σPSII driven by changes in phytoplankton community structure often exceed that induced by nutrient limitation (as determined from controlled nutrient addition experiments). An exception to this general trend occurs in high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll a (HNLC) regions, where strong phenotypic changes in Fv/Fm and σPSII have been repeatedly demonstrated on relief of iron limitation. Overall, FRR fluorescence measurements of both Fv/Fm and σPSII in natural populations represent a combination of the taxonomic ‘signature’ (values of Fv/Fm and σPSII determined by the taxa present) within the phytoplankton community that is further modified according to the (photo-) physiological status. As such, fluorescence-based investigations of mixed populations must account for potential variations in phytoplankton community structure before interpretations of physiological status are made.

KEY WORDS: Fast repetition rate · Fluorescence · PSII · Effective absorption cross section · Photochemical efficiency · Phytoplankton · Nutrient stress

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Cite this article as: Suggett DJ, Moore CM, Hickman AE, Geider RJ (2009) Interpretation of fast repetition rate (FRR) fluorescence: signatures of phytoplankton community structure versus physiological state. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 376:1-19.

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