Scientia Marina, Vol 76, No 1 (2012)

Effect of vertical mixing on short-term mycosporine-like amino acid synthesis in the Antarctic diatom, Thalasiossira sp.

Marcelo Pablo Hernando
Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Morón, Argentina

Jose Ignacio Carreto
Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, Argentina

Mario Carignan
Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, Argentina

Gustavo Adolfo Ferreyra
Institut de Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski, Canada


One of the adaptations whereby phytoplankton can alleviate damage induced by ultraviolet radiation (280-400 nm) is the synthesis of mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs). The synthesis of MAAs was studied after exposure of the Antarctic diatom Thalassiosira sp. isolated from Potter Cove (South Shetland Is., Antarctica) to 2 treatments with a solar simulator: surface (Sfix) and vertical mixing (Mix) irradiance conditions. Light exposure was simulated in daily cycles with maximum irradiance at noon. Only 2 MAAs, Porphyra-334 (82-85%) and Shinorine (15-18%), were identified. The concentration of the two compounds increased during experimental light exposure (50-55%) and declined in the dark (10-15%). During the light period the synthesis rate of MAAs per unit of chlorophyll a was higher in the Sfix treatment (µ=0.17 h-1) than in the Mix treatment (µ=0.05 h-1). In spite of the higher MAA levels, low cell numbers were observed in the Sfix treatment, suggesting that the algae synthesized photoprotective compounds at the expense of growth. Our results document overlapping effects of both daily light cycles and vertical mixing affecting the synthesis of MAAs. This, and the high thermal dissipation of the ultraviolet B radiation energy (280-320 nm) absorbed by these substances, suggest a rapid photoadaptive response of Thalasiossira sp. upon exposure to elevated irradiance in a stratified water column, as well as the complementary role of vertical mixing in photo-protection.


mycosporine-like amino acids; vertical mixing; Antarctic diatom; photoadaptive response; UV

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