Antarctic Science

Biological Sciences

UV radiation - a threat to Antarctic benthic marine diatoms?

Angela Wulffa1 c1, Katharina Zachera2, Dieter Hanelta3, Adil Al-Handala1 and Christian Wienckea2

a1 Department of Marine Ecology, Göteborg University, PO Box 461, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

a2 Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, D-27570 Bremerhaven, Germany

a3 Biozentrum Klein Flottbek, University of Hamburg, Ohnhorststr. 18, D-22609 Hamburg, Germany


This investigation was motivated by the lack of ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 280–400 nm) studies on Antarctic benthic marine microalgae. The objective was to estimate the impact of UV-B (280–315 nm) and UV-A (315–400 nm), on photosynthetic efficiency, species composition, cell density and specific growth rate in a semi-natural soft-bottom diatom community. In both experiments, cell density increased over time. The most frequently observed species were Navicula cancellata, Cylindrotheca closterium, Nitzschia spp., and Petroneis plagiostoma. For both experiments, a shift in species composition and a decreased photosystem II (PSII) maximum efficiency (Fv/Fm) over time was observed, irrespective of treatment. UVR significantly reduced Fv/Fm on days 3 and 10 (Expt 1), disappearing on the last sampling date. A similar trend was found in Expt 2. A significant UV effect on cell density was observed in Expt 1 (day 10) but not in Expt 2. No treatment effects on species composition or specific growth rate were found. Thus, the UV effects were transient (photosynthetic efficiency and cell density) and the growth of the benthic diatoms was generally unaffected. Overall, according to our results, UVR does not seem to be a threat to benthic marine Antarctic diatoms.

(Received December 08 2006)

(Accepted March 21 2007)