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J Bacteriol. 1997 Mar;179(6):1940-5.

UV-B-induced synthesis of photoprotective pigments and extracellular polysaccharides in the terrestrial cyanobacterium Nostoc commune.

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  • 1Institut für Mikrobiologie/FML, Technische Universität München, Germany.


Liquid cultures of the terrestrial cyanobacterium Nostoc commune derived from field material were treated with artificial UV-B and UV-A irradiation. We studied the induction of various pigments which are though to provide protection against damaging UV-B irradiation. First, UV-B irradiation induced an increase in carotenoids, especially echinenone and myxoxanthophyll, but did not influence production of chlorophyll a. Second, an increase of an extracellular, water-soluble UV-A/B-absorbing mycosporine occurred, which was associated with extracellular glycan synthesis. Finally, synthesis of scytonemin, a lipid-soluble, extracellular pigment known to function as a UV-A sunscreen, was observed. After long-time exposure, the UV-B effect on carotenoid and scytonemin synthesis ceased whereas the mycosporine content remained constantly high. The UV-B sunscreen mycosporine is exclusively induced by UV-B (< 315 nm). The UV-A sunscreen scytonemin is induced only slightly by UV-B (< 315 nm), very strongly by near UV-A (350 to 400 nm), and not at all by far UV-A (320 to 350 nm). These results may indicate that the syntheses of these UV sunscreens are triggered by different UV photoreceptors.

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