Simultaneous quantum yield measurements of carbon uptake and oxygen evolution in microalgal cultures
Public Library of Science (PLoS) -- PLOS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0199125

The photosynthetic quantum yield (Φ), defined as carbon fixed or oxygen evolved per unit of light absorbed, is a fundamental but rarely determined biophysical parameter. A method to estimate Φ for both net carbon uptake and net oxygen evolution simultaneously can provide important insights into energy and mass fluxes. Here we present details for a novel system that allows quantification of carbon fluxes using pH oscillation and simultaneous oxygen fluxes by integration with a membrane inlet mass spectrometer. The pHOS system was validated using Phaeodactylum tricornutum cultured with continuous illumination of 110 μmole quanta m-2 s-1 at 25°C. Furthermore, simultaneous measurements of carbon and oxygen flux using the pHOS-MIMS and photon flux based on spectral absorption were carried out to explore the kinetics of Φ in P. tricornutum during its acclimation from low to high light (110 to 750 μmole quanta m-2 s-1). Comparing results at 0 and 24 hours, we observed strong decreases in cellular chlorophyll a (0.58 to 0.21 pg cell-1), Fv/Fm (0.71 to 0.59) and maximum ΦCO2 (0.019 to 0.004) and ΦO2 (0.028 to 0.007), confirming the transition toward high light acclimation. The Φ time-series indicated a non-synchronized acclimation response between carbon uptake and oxygen evolution, which has been previously inferred based on transcriptomic changes for a similar experimental design with the same diatom that lacked physiological data. The integrated pHOS-MIMS system can provide simultaneous carbon and oxygen measurements accurately, and at the time-resolution required to resolve high-resolution carbon and oxygen physiological dynamics.