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Planta. 2007 Mar;225(4):991-1000.

The effects of ultraviolet radiation on photosynthetic performance, growth and sunscreen compounds in aeroterrestrial biofilm algae isolated from building facades.

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Institute of Biological Sciences, Applied Ecology, University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Str. 3, 18051 Rostock, Germany.


The effects of artificial ultraviolet radiation [UVR; 8 W m(-2) ultraviolet-A (UVA), 0.4 W m(-2) ultraviolet-B (UVB)] on photosynthetic performance, growth and the capability to synthesise mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) was investigated in the aeroterrestrial green algae Stichococcus sp. and Chlorella luteoviridis forming biofilms on building facades, and compared with the responses of two green algae, from soil (Myrmecia incisa) and brackish water (Desmodesmus subspicatus). All species exhibited decreasing quantum efficiency (Fv/Fm) after 1-3 days exposure to UVR. After 8-12 days treatment, however, all aeroterrestrial isolates exhibited full recovery under UVA and UVA/B. In contrast, D. subspicatus showed only 80% recovery after treatment with UVB. While Stichococcus sp. and C. luteoviridis exhibited a broad tolerance in growth under all radiation conditions tested, M. incisa showed a significant decrease in growth rate after exposure to UVA and UVA/B. Similarly D. subspicatus grew with a reduced rate under UVA, but UVA/B led to full inhibition. Using HPLC, an UV-absorbing MAA (324 nm-MAA) was identified in Stichococcus sp. and C. luteoviridis. While M. incisa contained a specific 322 nm-MAA, D. subspicatus lacked any trace of such compounds. UV-exposure experiments indicated that all MAA-containing species are capable of synthesizing and accumulating these compounds, thus supporting their function as an UV-sunscreen. All data well explain the conspicuous ecological success of aeroterrestrial green algae in biofilms on facades. Biosynthesis and accumulation of MAAs under UVR seem to result in a reduced UV-sensitivity of growth and photosynthesis, which consequently may enhance survival in the environmentally harsh habitat.

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