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Algae > Volume 29(4); 2014 > Article
Algae 2014;29(4): 321-331. doi: https://doi.org/10.4490/algae.2014.29.4.321
Ascophyllum nodosum and its symbionts: XI. The epiphyte Vertebrata lanosa performs better photosynthetically when attached to Ascophyllum than when alone
David J. Garbary1,*, Anthony G. Miller1 and Ricardo A. Scrosati1

1Department of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5, Canada
*Corresponding Author  Email: dgarbary@gmail.com
Vertebrata lanosa is an abundant and obligate red algal epiphyte of Ascophyllum nodosum that forms part of a complex and highly integrated symbiotic system that includes the ascomycete, Mycophycias ascophylli. As part of ongoing studies to resolve interactions among species in the symbiosis, we used pulse amplitude modulation fluorimetry of chlorophyll a fluorescence, from photosystem II (PSII), to measure the maximum quantum yield (Fv / Fm) of PSII [QY(II)max] and relative photosynthetic electron transport rates (rETR), as a function of light intensity, in order to evaluate the photosynthetic capacity of the two algal symbionts in the field and in the laboratory under different treatments. Our primary question was ‘Is the ecological integration of these species reflected in a corresponding physiological integration involving photosynthetic process?’ In the laboratory we measured changes in QY(II)max in thalli of V. lanosa and A. nodosum over one week periods when maintained together in either attached or detached treatments or when maintained separated from each other. While the QY(II)max of PSII of A. nodosum remained high and showed no significant variation among treatments, V. lanosa showed decreasing performance in the following conditions: V. lanosa attached to A. nodosum, V. lanosa in the same culture, but not attached to A. nodosum, and V. lanosa alone. These results are consistent with observations in which rETR was reduced in V. lanosa maintained alone versus attached to A. nodosum. Values for QY(II)max in V. lanosa measured in the field in fully submerged thalli were similar to those measured in the laboratory when V. lanosa was attached to it obligate host A. nodosum. Our results provide evidence of a physiological association of the epiphyte and its host that reflects the known ecology.
Key words: Ascophyllum nodosum; epiphytism; photosynthesis; quantum yield; symbiosis; Vertebrata lanosa

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