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Light has been identified as one of the main factors affecting seaweed ecophysiology. We investigated the dependence of nutrient metabolism on sun and shade light conditions and whether episodes of upwelling of nutrient-rich subsuperficial water could reduce the summer nutrient limitation driving physiological changes in Palmaria palmata (L.) Kuntze. We measured the major nutrient pools, photosynthetic pigments, and light curves, under sun and shade conditions during a summer period when one upwelling was recorded. The redundancy analysis (RDA) produced two clear groups: sun- and shade-acclimated algae. Light was the major predictive factor. Sun-acclimated algae exhibited higher carbon (C) and lower nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) content in association with the storage of floridoside (main C reserve) to benefit from higher irradiance (under nutrient limitation). Among N pools, N reserves (phycoerythrin, nitrate) were a lower proportion of the total N in sun-acclimated algae, suggesting their degradation to fulfill the N demands of the cell. The orthophosphate content was also lower in sun-acclimated algae, indicating its utilization as a nutrient reserve. In contrast, N within cell walls and membranes and chl a contributed to a similar proportion of the total N in sun- and shade-acclimated algae, suggesting a response to sustain cell integrity. Transient high nutrient concentration due to the upwelling was unrelated to the nutrient content of the thallus. The storage of C as floridoside from high light exposure was shown to be the driving force for the metabolic adjustment of P. palmata at the end of summer before the onset of dormancy.
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Keywords: Palmaria palmata; carbon; light; nitrogen; nutrient; phosphorus; shade; sun; upwelling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación, Escuela Superior de Ciencias Experimentales y Tecnología, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, C/ Tulipán s/n, E-28933 Móstoles, Madrid, Spain

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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