The Application of Chlorophyll Fluorescence in the Aquatic Environment

  • Christian Wilhelm


In the aquatic environment the chlorophyll-bearing particles, mainly eukaryotic microalgae or prokaryotic cyanobacteria (including prochlorophyta), are of major ecological importance: The amount and the composition of the phytoplankton in freshwater habitats defines the water quality not only in short term but also in long term because high production leads to a burden in the oxygen budget. Reduced oxygen concentration in the water column or at the water-sediment interface increases the risk of fish poisoning and of the presence of human pathogens. Therefore, water quality control has traditionally implemented the analysis of phytoplankton composition and growth. Chlorophyll a has been used as a standard parameter to measure the biomass of oxygenic phototrophs, although several authors have shown that chlorophyll is not simply related to total carbon or other parameters defining biomass (Sakshaug, 1980). Depending on the species and the environmental conditions this ratio can vary by a factor of 20 [unpublished data]. The reasons chlorophyll has been used in spite of these disadvantages are methodological: it is easy to estimate and since the early 1970s fluorescence-based instruments have been available that allow the chlorophyll estimate on-line with sufficient sensitivity and accuracy (Yentsch et al., 1963; Ernst, 1986).


Chlorophyll Fluorescence Electron Transport Rate Fluorescence Induction Kinetic Oxygen Production Rate Oxygenic Phototroph 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Wilhelm
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Botany, Department of Plant PhysiologyUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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