Photosystem activity status of the green algal (Pseudocyphellaria lividofusca) and cyanobacterial (P. knightii) components of a photosymbiodeme were continuously monitored in the field over a period of 35 days. The photosymbiodeme grew on a Nothofagus menziesii tree at Lake Waikaremoana, Urewera National Park, North Island, New Zealand. Two Mini-PAM fluorometers were placed so that the chlorophyll a fluorescence, temperature and PPFD (photosynthetically active photon flux density) could be recorded every 30 min for green algal and cyanobacterial parts of the thallus. Microclimate conditions were also recorded with a datalogger. The study confirmed the already known ability of green algal lichens to reactivate from high humidity alone whilst cyanobacterial species need liquid water, here obtained from rainfall. The photosystems of P. lividofusca were activated on every day and positive ETR (relative electron transport rate) occurred on all but 3 days. Activation level depended on the overnight relative humidity. P. knightii was activated and had positive ETR on only 13 days when rainfall had occurred. Both species were mostly inactive above 12°C but differed at low temperatures. P. knightii showed no activation at very low temperatures, –2 to 0°C, since these only occurred on clear, rain-free nights. PPFD was always very low, mostly below 80 µmol m–2 s–1, and both species were inactive at higher PPFD. The three-dimensional structure of the thallus seemed to contribute to the hydration. The cyanobacterial sectors were more appressed to the trunk and needed substantial rainfall to rewet whereas the green algal lobes were more distant from the trunk and this probably caused more rapid desiccation as well as lower temperatures. It is suggested that the longer active periods for photosynthesis by P. lividofusca are balanced by several factors: first, depressed net photosynthesis at high thallus water contents after rainfall, a feature not shown by P. knightii; second, possible lower maximal net photosynthetic rates; and third, the possibility of greater respiratory rates when thalli have been hydrated by high relative humidity. There is little evidence for high PPFD differently affecting the photosymbiodeme components since sustained, high PPFD did not occur. It has been reported that the photosystems of cyanobacterial species from photosymbiodemes can reactivate at high relative humidity but the results obtained here suggest that it is not ecologically significant.
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Green, A.T., Schlensog, M., Sancho, L.G. et al. The photobiont determines the pattern of photosynthetic activity within a single lichen thallus containing cyanobacterial and green algal sectors (photosymbiodeme). Oecologia 130, 191–198 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420100800
- Water relations
- New Zealand
- Chlorophyll fluorescence