In this review, we briefly describe the two main techniques used to measure variable fluorescence in the aquatic environment, and show how the parameters derived from this technique can be used to estimate the rate of photosynthesis. The methods estimate the photochemical efficiency of photosystem II from ratios of fluorescence levels. Flashes of light that are transiently saturating for photochemistry (i.e. they are sufficiently bright to close all PSII reaction centres) are used to obtain the maximum fluorescence level. The type of saturating flash differs between methods. In one approach, single turnover (ST) flashes are applied. This allows only one charge separation during the flash and reduces only the primary acceptor of PS II, raising fluorescence to a level Fm(ST). In a second approach the flashes are multiple turnover (MT), which allow repeated charge separation processes until all electron acceptors of PS II are reduced. A relaxation of quenching is induced by the longer flash, and this raises the maximum fluorescence to a higher level, Fm(MT). Application of the different approaches to an algal sample will result in differing Fm values and, as a result, different values for the photochemical efficiency of PS II, with the MT method giving higher values than ST. Several designs of equipment, based on MT or ST techniques, are available for use with phytoplankton or benthic algae. Both techniques measure variable fluorescence, but there are a number of important differences in the methods used to calculate photosynthetic rates. In our view, this necessitates the use of a different terminology in order to avoid confusion, until the underlying physiological differences are resolved. An example is given showing that combining terminology from the different approaches will result in calculation of erroneous photosynthetic electron transport rates [KEYWORDS: absorption, fluorescence, pam, frrf, photosynthesis, photosynthetic electron transport, variable fluorescence, optical cross-section, functional cross-section]
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Phycology
Journal publication date2003

ID: 78305