University Of Tasmania

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Freezing, melting, and light stress on the photophysiology of ice algae: ex situ incubation of the ice algal diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus (Bacillariophyceae) using an ice tank

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 17:33 authored by Kazuhiro Yoshida, Andreas SegerAndreas Seger, Fraser KennedyFraser Kennedy, Andrew McMinnAndrew McMinn, Suzuki, K

Sea ice algae contribute up to 25% of the primary productivity of polar seas and seed large‐scale ice‐edge blooms. Fluctuations in temperature, salinity, and light associated with the freeze/thaw cycle can significantly impact the photophysiology of ice‐associated taxa. The effects of multiple co‐stressors (i.e., freezing temperature and high brine salinity or sudden high light exposure) on the photophysiology of ice algae were investigated in a series of ice tank experiments with the polar diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus under different light intensities. When algal cells were frozen into the ice, the maximum quantum yield of photosystem II photochemistry (PSII; Fv/Fm) decreased possibly due to the damage of PSII reaction centers and/or high brine salinity stress suppressing the reduction capacity downstream of PSII. Expression of the rbcL gene was highly up‐regulated, suggesting that cells initiated strategies to enhance survival upon freezing in. Algae contained within the ice‐matrix displayed similar levels of Fv/Fm regardless of the light treatments. Upon melting out, cells were exposed to high light (800 μmol photons · m−2 · s−1), resulting in a rapid decline in Fv/Fm and significant up‐regulation of non‐photochemical quenching (NPQ). These results suggest that ice algae employed safety valves (i.e., NPQ) to maintain their photosynthetic capability during the sudden environmental changes. Our results infer that sea ice algae are highly adaptable when exposed to multiple co‐stressors and that their success can, in part, be explained by the ability to rapidly modify their photosynthetic competence – a key factor contributing to algal bloom formation in the polar seas.


Publication title

Journal of Phycology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Blackwell Publishing Inc

Place of publication

350 Main St, Malden, USA, Ma, 02148

Rights statement

© 2020 Phycological Society of America

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Effects of climate change on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments (excl. social impacts)