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Photosynthetic pigment changes and adaptations in biofilms in response to flow intermittency

AuthorsTimoner, X.; Buchaca, Teresa ; Acuña, Vicenç; Sabater, Sergi
Climate change
Issue Date2014
CitationAquatic Sciences : DOI 10.1007/s00027-014-0355-6 (2014)
AbstractAmong the environmental factors affecting benthic algae and cyanobacteria in streams, the one often producing the largest effects is flow intermittency. This study aimed to characterize the responses of algal assemblages to flow intermittency in a Mediterranean intermittent stream during the drying, non-flow (112 days), and rewetting phases. Algae growing in the epilithic, epipsammic and hyporheic streambed compartments were analyzed for pigment composition, and for the existence of structural changes in cells. Chlorophyll-a concentrations decreased between 60 to 90 % during the non-flow phase, indicating low resistance of algal assemblages to desiccation. In contrast, fast recoveries of Chlorophyll-a when flow resumed indicated high resilience. Pigment composition revealed that the epilithic algal assemblage was considerably different than the epipsammic and hyporheic ones. These differences were mainly attributed to the physical conditions prevailing on each streambed compartment that allowed the growth of different algal assemblages. During the non-flow phase, the synthesis of protective carotenoids (i.e. echinenone and scytonemin) and the occurrence of cell resistance structures (i.e. enlarged membrane thickness and resistant spores) enhanced resistance of the epilithic biofilm. The resistance observed in the epilithic biofilm might also be related to the tightly adhered growth-form of algae on this substratum. Main results suggest that algal assemblages in the epilithic compartment, which were the most exposed to desiccation, were structurally and functionally better adapted to flow interruption than those colonizing other streambed compartments, and that this compartment plays a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem functions under varying flow periods.
Description14 páginas, 5 figuras, 2 tablas.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00027-014-0355-6
Appears in Collections:(CEAB) Artículos
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