, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 993-1004
Date: 19 May 2006

UV-Induced Mortality in Encapsulated Intertidal Embryos: Are Mycosporine-Like Amino Acids an Effective Sunscreen?

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Abstract

Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) are believed to protect a variety of marine organisms against the negative effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). However, their role in protecting developing intertidal encapsulated embryos remains untested. In the present study, we focused on the UV protective role of natural concentrations of MAAs for two intertidal gastropod species, Bembicium nanum and Siphonaria denticulata, which lay egg masses in habitats exposed to direct sunlight. We predicted that in both species, a higher concentration of MAAs within the egg mass would increase the likelihood of embryonic survivorship in the presence of UVR. Egg masses from both species were collected along the rocky shores of southeastern New South Wales, and a portion from each was subjected to one of three separate spectral treatments: full spectrum, UV-B block, and UV block. Proportions of surviving embryos were recorded following 72 hr exposure to spectral treatment. In addition, MAAs in each egg mass were quantified. Levels of variation in MAA concentration were striking, with S. denticulata egg masses showing more intraspecific variation than those of B. nanum. Surprisingly, survivorship under all spectral treatments was extremely high for both species, irrespective of MAA concentration. Under full spectrum treatments, B. nanum survivorship and total MAA concentration were significantly and positively correlated; however, MAA accounted for just 23.6% (R = 0.486) of the variation in survivorship. In contrast, survivorship in S. denticulata was not correlated with MAA concentration under full spectrum light. We conclude that the dependence on MAAs as photoprotection may be species-specific; however, it is likely that both species possess alternative mechanisms that minimize the negative effects of UVR.