Natural ultraviolet radiation and photosynthetically active radiation induce formation of mycosporine-like amino acids in the marine macroalga Chondrus crispus (Rhodophyta)

Research paper by Ulf Karsten, Linda A. Franklin, Klaus Lüning, Christian Wiencke

Indexed on: 01 May '98Published on: 01 May '98Published in: Planta


The UV-absorbing mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) are hypothesized to protect organisms against harmful UV radiation (UVR). Since the physiology and metabolism of these compounds are unknown, the induction and kinetics of MAA biosynthesis by various natural radiation conditions were investigated in the marine red alga Chondrus crispus collected from Helgoland, Germany. Three photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, 400–700 nm) treatments without UVR and three UV-A/B (290–400 nm) treatments without PAR were given. Chondrus crispus collected from 4–6 m depth contained only traces of the MAA palythine. After 24 h exposure to 100% ambient PAR, traces of three additional MAAs, shinorine, palythinol and palythene, were detected, and their concentrations increased strongly during a one-week exposure to all PAR treatments. The concentration of all MAAs varied directly with PAR dose, with palythine and shinorine being four- to sevenfold higher than palythinol and palythene. Likewise, naturally high doses of both UV-A and UV-B resulted in a strong accumulation of all MAAs, in particular shinorine. While shinorine accumulation was much more stimulated by UVR, the content of all other MAAs was more affected by high PAR, indicating an MAA-specific induction triggered by UVR or PAR.