Nitrogen Limitation Decreases the Repair Capacity and Enhances Photoinhibition of Photosystem II in a Diatom

Zhenzhen Li, Ting Lan, Jiaojiao Zhang, Kunshan Gao, John Beardall, Yaping Wu

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Macronutrient limitation and increased solar exposure coincide with ocean warming-enhanced stratification, with consequences for phytoplankton within the upper mixing layer. In this study, we grew a diatom, Thalassiosira punctigera, under nitrogen-limited and replete conditions for more than 14 generations and investigated both the biochemical composition of treated cells and their photochemical responses to high light and UV exposure. The photosynthetic pigment and the particulate organic nitrogen (PON) content significantly decreased in the low nitrate grown cells, with drastic decline of the absorption of UV absorbing compounds. Under an acute exposure to high light or UV radiation, we observed a significant decline in the photochemical yield along with an increase of nonphotosynthetic quenching (NPQ), with the former lowered and the latter raised in the low-nitrogen grown cells. The results reveal a decreased repair rate and enhanced photoinhibition of the diatom under nitrogen limitation when exposed to increased levels of light and UV radiation, suggesting a higher vulnerability of the diatom phytoplankton under influences of oceanic global change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-752
Number of pages8
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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