Chlorophyll f distribution and dynamics in cyanobacterial beachrock biofilms

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Journal Article
Journal of Phycology, 2016, 52 (6), pp. 990 - 996
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© 2016 Phycological Society of America Chlorophyll (Chl) f, the most far-red (720–740 nm) absorbing Chl species, was discovered in cyanobacterial isolates from stromatolites and subsequently in other habitats as well. However, the spatial distribution and temporal dynamics of Chl f in a natural habitat have so far not been documented. Here, we report the presence of Chl f in cyanobacterial beachrock biofilms. Hyperspectral imaging on cross-sections of beachrock from Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia), showed a strong and widely distributed signature of Chl f absorption in an endolithic layer below the dense cyanobacterial surface biofilm that could be localized to aggregates of Chroococcidiopsis-like unicellular cyanobacteria packed within a thick common sheath. High-pressure liquid chromatography-based pigment analyses showed in situ ratios of Chl f to Chl a of 5% in brown-pigmented zones of the beachrock, with lower ratios of ~0.5% in the black- and pink-pigmented biofilm zones. Enrichment experiments with black beachrock biofilm showed stimulated synthesis of Chl f and Chl d when grown under near-infrared radiation (NIR; 740 nm), with a Chl f to Chl a ratio increasing 4-fold to 2%, whereas the Chl d to Chl a ratio went from 0% to 0.8%. Enrichments grown under white light (400–700 nm) produced no detectable amounts of either Chl d or Chl f. Beachrock cyanobacteria thus exhibited characteristics of far-red light photoacclimation, enabling Chl f -containing cyanobacteria to thrive in optical niches deprived of visible light when sufficient NIR is prevalent.
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