A novel and high-throughput approach to assess photosynthetic thermal tolerance of kelp using chlorophyll α fluorometry

Rosalie J. Harris*, Callum Bryant, Melinda A. Coleman, Andrea Leigh, Verónica F. Briceño, Pieter A. Arnold, Adrienne B. Nicotra

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Foundation seaweed species are experiencing widespread declines and localized extinctions due to increased instability of sea surface temperature. Characterizing temperature thresholds are useful for predicting patterns of change and identifying species most vulnerable to extremes. Existing methods for characterizing seaweed thermal tolerance produce diverse metrics and are often time-consuming, making comparisons between species and techniques difficult, hindering insight into global patterns of change. Using three kelp species, we adapted a high-throughput method – previously used in terrestrial plant thermal biology – for use on kelps. This method employs temperature-dependent fluorescence (T–F0) curves under heating or cooling regimes to determine the critical temperature (Tcrit) of photosystem II (PSII), i.e., the breakpoint between slow and fast rise fluorescence response to changing temperature, enabling rapid assays of photosynthetic thermal tolerance using a standardized metric. This method enables characterization of Tcrit for up to 48 samples per two-hour assay, demonstrating the capacity of T–F0 curves for high-throughput assays of thermal tolerance. Temperature-dependent fluorescence curves and their derived metric, Tcrit, may offer a timely and powerful new method for the field of phycology, enabling characterization and comparison of photosynthetic thermal tolerance of seaweeds across many populations, species, and biomes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-192
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Phycology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


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