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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Photosynthetic characteristics and mycosporine-like amino acids under UV radiation: a competitive advantage of Mastocarpus stellatus over Chondrus crispus at the Helgoland shoreline?

  • K. Bischof,
  • G. Kräbs,
  • D. Hanelt and
  • C. Wiencke
Helgoland Marine Research54:00540047.10152


Chondrus crispus and Mastocarpus stellatus both inhabit the intertidal and upper sublittoral zone of Helgoland, but with C. crispus generally taking a lower position. Measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence, activity of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO), and content and composition of UV absorbing mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) were conducted in the laboratory, to test whether susceptibility to UV radiation may play a role in the vertical distribution of these two species. Effective and maximal quantum yield of photochemistry as well as maximal electron transport rate (ETRmax) in C. crispus were more strongly affected by UV-B radiation than in M. stellatus. In both species, no negative effects of the respective radiation conditions were found on total activity of RubisCO. Total MAA content in M. stellatus was up to 6-fold higher than in C. crispus and the composition of MAAs in the two species was different. The results indicate that, among others, UV-B sensitivity may be a factor restricting C. crispus to the lower intertidal and upper sublittoral zone, whereas M. stellatus is better adapted to UV radiation and is therefore more competitive in the upper intertidal zone.

Key words Chondrus crispusChlorophyll fluorescenceMastocarpus stellatusMycosporine-like amino acidsUV radiation