Elevated CO2 concentration alleviates UVR-induced inhibition of photosynthetic light reactions and growth in an intertidal red macroalga

Di Zhang, Juntian Xu, Menglin Bao, Dong Yan, Sven Beer, John Beardall, Kunshan Gao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The commercially important red macroalga Pyropia (formerly Porphyra) yezoensis is, in its natural intertidal environment, subjected to high levels of both photosynthetically active and ultraviolet radiation (PAR and UVR, respectively). In the present work, we investigated the effects of a plausibly increased global CO2 concentration on quantum yields of photosystems II (PSII) and I (PSI), as well as photosynthetic and growth rates of P. yezoensis grown under natural solar irradiance regimes with or without the presence of UV-A and/or UV-B. Our results showed that the high-CO2 treatment (~1000 μbar, which also caused a drop of 0.3 pH units in the seawater) significantly increased both CO2 assimilation rates (by 35%) and growth (by 18%), as compared with ambient air of ~400 μbar CO2. The inhibition of growth by UV-A (by 26%) was reduced to 15% by high-CO2 concentration, while the inhibition by UV-B remained at ~6% under both CO2 concentrations. Homologous results were also found for the maximal relative photosynthetic electron transport rates (rETRmax), the maximum quantum yield of PSII (Fv/Fm), as well as the midday decrease in effective quantum yield of PSII (YII) and concomitant increased non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). A two-way ANOVA analysis showed an interaction between CO2 concentration and irradiance quality, reflecting that UVR-induced inhibition of both growth and YII were alleviated under the high-CO2 treatment. Contrary to PSII, the effective quantum yield of PSI (YI) showed higher values under high-CO2 condition, and was not significantly affected by the presence of UVR, indicating that it was well protected from this radiation. Both the elevated CO2 concentration and presence of UVR significantly induced UV-absorbing compounds. These results suggest that future increasing CO2 conditions will be beneficial for photosynthesis and growth of P. yezoensis even if UVR should remain at high levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112074
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • CO enrichment
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Photosynthetic light reactions
  • Photosynthetic rates
  • Pyropia yezoensis
  • UV-radiation


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