Utilizing the effective xanthophyll cycle for blooming of ochromonas smithii and O. itoi (chrysophyceae) on the snow surface

Yukiko Tanabe*, Tomofumi Shitara, Yasuhiro Kashino, Yoshiaki Hara, Sakae Kudoh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Snow algae inhabit unique environments such as alpine and high latitudes, and can grow and bloom with visualizing on snow or glacier during spring-summer. The chrysophytes Ochromonas smithii and Ochromonas itoi are dominant in yellow-colored snow patches in mountainous heavy snow areas from late May to early June. It is considered to be effective utilizing the xanthophyll cycle and holding sunscreen pigments as protective system for snow algae blooming in the vulnerable environment such as low temperature and nutrients, and strong light, however the study on the photoprotection of chrysophytes snow algae has not been shown. To dissolve how the chrysophytes snow algae can grow and bloom under such an extreme environment, we studied with the object of light which is one point of significance to this problem. We collected the yellow snows and measured photosynthetically active radiation at Mt. Gassan in May 2008 when the bloom occurred, then tried to establish unialgal cultures of O. smithii and O. itoi, and examined their photosynthetic properties by a PAM chlorophyll fluorometer and analyzed the pigment compositions before and after illumination with high-light intensities to investigate the working xanthophyll cycle. This experimental study using unialgal cultures revealed that both O. smithii and O. itoi utilize only the efficient violaxanthin cycle for photoprotection as a dissipation system of surplus energy under prolonged high-light stress, although they possess chlorophyll c with diadinoxanthin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14690
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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