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The moss Bryum argenteum var. muticum Brid. is well adapted to cope with high light in continental Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2012

B. Schroeter*
Affiliation:
Botanical Institute, University of Kiel, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
T.G.A. Green
Affiliation:
Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand Dept Biologia Vegetal II, Fac. de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
Daniel Kulle
Affiliation:
Botanical Institute, University of Kiel, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
S. Pannewitz
Affiliation:
Botanical Institute, University of Kiel, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
M. Schlensog
Affiliation:
Botanical Institute, University of Kiel, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
L.G. Sancho
Affiliation:
Dept Biologia Vegetal II, Fac. de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain

Abstract

The net photosynthetic rate (NP), chlorophyll fluorescence, carotenoid content and chlorophyll content of the cosmopolitan moss Bryum argenteum were measured in the field at Botany Bay, southern Victoria Land, continental Antarctica (77°S). Comparisons were made between sun- and shade-adapted forms, and changes were followed as the moss emerged from under the snow and during exposure of shade and sun forms to ambient light. Shade forms had lower light compensation and saturation values for NP but little difference in maximal NP rates. Shade forms exposed to ambient light changed rapidly (within five days) towards the performance of the sun forms. Surprisingly, this change was not by acclimation of shoots but by the production of new shoots. Chlorophyll and carotenoid levels measured on a molar chlorophyll basis showed no difference between sun and shade forms and also little change during emergence. The constant molar relationship between carotenoids and chlorophyll plus the high levels of the xanthophyll cycle pigments suggest that protection of the chlorophyll antenna was constitutive. This is an adaptation to the very high light levels that occur when the plants are active in continental Antarctica and contrasts to the situation in more temperate areas where high light is normally avoided by desiccation.

Type
Biological Sciences
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2012

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