Use of pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry for in situ measurements of photosynthesis in two Red Sea faviid corals

S. Beer*, M. Ilan, A. Eshel, A. Weil, I. Brickner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Measurements of the photosynthetic activity of symbiotic zooxanthellae in corals under natural growth conditions has been limited until recently, and this is one of the first reports on utilising a newly developed underwater pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometer (the Diving-PAM, Walz Gmbh, Germany) for such studies in situ. Photosynthetic responses to irradiance (photosynthetic photon flux, PPF) of the two faviid corals Pavia favus (Forskal) and Platygyra lamellina (Ehrenberg) were measured while snorkelling or SCUBA diving (in August 1997), and we report here the results in terms of effective quantum yields of photosystem II (Y) and estimated rates of photosynthetic electron transport (ETR, calculated as Y x 0.5 x PPF x FA, where FA is the estimated fraction of light absorbed by the photosymbiont-containing tissue). Both species showed a reduction in Y with increasing actinic irradiances produced by the instrument above 500 μmol photons m-2 s-1, and the corresponding ETR values yielded apparently typical photosynthesis versus irradiance (P-I) curves, which saturated between 1500 and 2000 μmol photons m-2 s-1. It was found that 30 s irradiation at each PPF level was sufficient to give optimal ETR values and, therefore, each P-I curve could be obtained within a few minutes. In situ point measurements from various areas of colonies under ambient light showed average ETR values within the range expected from the P-I curves. In order to test the Diving-PAM in an eco-physiologically relevant experiment, photosynthetic ETR versus PPF was measured for three sections of a large P. lamellina, each section of which received different natural irradiance levels. The results clearly demonstrated adaptations to the ambient light field in that vertical and downward-facing portions of the colony showed gradually lower maximal ETRs, steeper initial slopes of the P-I curves and, accordingly, lower light saturation points than upward-facing areas receiving higher light levels. Based on these trials, some evaluations are given as to the applicability of the Diving-PAM for photosynthetic measurements when monitoring similar corals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-612
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1998


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