, Volume 227, Issue 4, pp 907-916
Date: 20 Nov 2007

Isolate-specific effects of ultraviolet radiation on photosynthesis, growth and mycosporine-like amino acids in the microbial mat-forming cyanobacterium Microcoleus chthonoplastes

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Microcoleus chthonoplastes constitutes one of the dominant microorganisms in intertidal microbial mat communities. In the laboratory, the effects of repeated daily exposure to ultraviolet radiation (16:8 light:dark cycle) was investigated in unicyanobacterial cultures isolated from three different localities (Baltic Sea = WW6; North Sea = STO and Brittany = BRE). Photosynthesis and growth were measured in time series (12–15 days) while UV-absorbing mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) and cellular integrity were determined after 12 and 3 days exposure to three radiation treatments [PAR (22 μmol photon m−2 s−1) = P; PAR + UV-A (8 W m−2) = PA; PAR + UV-A + UV-B (0.4 W m−2) = PAB]. Isolate-specific responses to UVR were observed. The proximate response to radiation stress after 1-day treatment showed that isolate WW6 was the most sensitive to UVR. However, repeated exposure to radiation stress indicated that photosynthetic efficiency (F v/F m) of WW6 acclimated to UVR. Conversely, although photosynthesis in STO exhibited lower reduction in F v/F m during the first day, the values declined over time. The BRE isolate was the most tolerant to radiation stress with the lowest reduction in F v/F m sustained over time. While photosynthetic efficiencies of different isolates were able to acclimate to UVR, growth did not. The discrepancy seems to be due to the higher cell density used for photosynthesis compared to the growth measurement. Apparently, the cell density used for photosynthesis was not high enough to offer self-shading protection because cellular damage was also observed in those filaments under UVR. Most likely, the UVR acclimation of photosynthesis reflects predominantly the performance of the surviving cells within the filaments. Different strategies were observed in MAAs synthesis. Total MAAs content in WW6 was not significantly different between all the radiation treatments. In contrast, the additional fluence of UV-A and UV-B significantly increased MAAs synthesis and accumulation in STO while only UV-B fluence significantly increased MAAs content in BRE. Regardless of the dynamic photosynthetic recovery process and potential UV-protective functions of MAAs, cellular investigation showed that UV-B significantly contributed to an increased cell mortality in single filaments. In their natural mat habitat, M. chthonoplastes benefits from closely associated cyanobacteria which are highly UVR-tolerant due to the production of the extracellular UV-sunscreen scytonemin.