Response of Antarctic sea-ice algae to an experimental decrease in pH: a preliminary analysis from chlorophyll fluorescence imaging of melting ice

Microorganisms confined to annual sea ice in the Southern Ocean are exposed to highly variable oxygen and carbonate chemistry dynamics because of the seasonal increase in biomass and limited exchange with the underlying water column. For sea-ice algae, physiological stress is likely to be exacerbated when the ice melts; however, variation in carbonate speciation has rarely been monitored during this important state-transition. Using pulse amplitude modulated fluorometry (Imaging-PAM, Walz), we documented in situ changes in the maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) of sea-ice algae melting out into seawater with initial pH values ranging from 7.66 to 6.39. Although the process of ice-melt elevated seawater pH by 0.2–0.55 units, we observed a decrease in Fv/Fm between 0.02 and 0.06 for each unit drop in pH during real-time fluorescence imaging. These results are considered preliminary but provide context for including carbonate chemistry monitoring in the design of future sea ice state-transition experiments. Imaging-PAM is a reliable technology for determining Fv/Fm, but is of limited use for obtaining additional photosynthetic parameters when imaging melting ice.

Castrisios K., Martin A., Müller M. N., Kennedy F., McMinn A. & Ryan K. G., 2018. Response of Antarctic sea-ice algae to an experimental decrease in pH: a preliminary analysis from chlorophyll fluorescence imaging of melting ice. Polar Research 37: 1438696. doi:10.1080/17518369.2018.1438696. Article.

 

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