Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) fluorometry is now a widely used method for the assessment of phytoplankton fitness, with an increasing popularity in field assessments. It is usually recommended to carry out measurements swiftly after collection, but the number of samples and analytical procedures needed to obtain valuable datasets sometimes makes immediate analysis impracticable, forcing delays between fluorescence measurements. Conservation conditions of samples before analysis may potentially affect their photosynthetic performances but no formal study documenting such impacts appears available in the literature. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of storage conditions (temperature, duration) on photosynthetic parameters in different phytoplankton communities (characterized in situ by a BBE fluoroprobe) sampled during summer in different environmental locations in a Mediterranean lagoon (Biguglia lagoon, Corsica, France). PAM-fluorescence parameters were measured after three different conservation durations (2h to 4h, 6h to 8h and 10h to 12h after collection) on samples stored at three different temperatures (15°C, 25°C and 35°C). Results showed that storage at the highest temperature severely impacted photosynthetic parameters, with cumulative effects as storage duration increased. For phytoplankton samples collected in warm or tropical environments, storage at “room temperature” (25°C) only appeared a valid option if measurements have to be carried out strictly within a very short delay. Inversely, cooling the samples (i.e. conservation at 15°C) did not induce significant effects, independently of storage duration. Cooling appeared the best solution when sampling-to-analysis delay goes over a few hours. Long-term storage (>8h) should definitively be avoided.Peer reviewe
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