Light acclimation of the colonial green alga Botryococcus braunii Strain Showa

Tomas E. Van Den Berg, Volha U. Chukhutsina, Herbert Van Amerongen, Roberta Croce*, Bart Van Oort

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In contrast to single cellular species, detailed information is lacking on the processes of photosynthetic acclimation for colonial algae, although these algae are important for biofuel production, ecosystem biodiversity, and wastewater treatment. To investigate differences between single cellular and colonial species, we studied the regulation of photosynthesis and photoprotection during photoacclimation for the colonial green alga Botryococcus braunii and made a comparison with the properties of the single cellular species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. We show that B. braunii shares some high-light (HL) photoacclimation strategies with C. reinhardtii and other frequently studied green algae: decreased chlorophyll content, increased free carotenoid content, and increased nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ). Additionally, B. braunii has unique HL photoacclimation strategies, related to its colonial form: strong internal shading by an increase of the colony size and the accumulation of extracellular echinenone (a ketocarotenoid). HL colonies are larger and more spatially heterogenous than low-light colonies. Compared with surface cells, cells deeper inside the colony have increased pigmentation and larger photosystem II antenna size. The core of the largest of the HL colonies does not contain living cells. In contrast with C. reinhardtii, but similar to other biofilm-forming algae, NPQ capacity is substantial in low light. In HL, NPQ amplitude increases, but kinetics are unchanged. We discuss possible causes of the different acclimation responses of C. reinhardtii and B. braunii. Knowledge of the specific photoacclimation processes for this colonial green alga further extends the view of the diversity of photoacclimation strategies in photosynthetic organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1132-1143
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO) Earth and Life Sciences (ALW), through a Veni grant to B.v.O. and a Vici grant to R.C., by the NWO-ALW through an MMM grant to R.C., and by a grant from the BioSolar Cell Program, cofinanced by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, to R.C.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.


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