Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 689–699 | Cite as

Comparing the response of Antarctic, tropical and temperate microalgae to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) stress

  • C. Y. Wong
  • W. L. Chu
  • H. Marchant
  • S. M. Phang


The response of Antarctic, tropical and temperate microalgae of similar taxonomic grouping to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) stress was compared based on their growth and fatty acid profiles. Microalgae of similar taxa from the Antarctic (Chlamydomonas UMACC 229, Chlorella UMACC 237 and Navicula UMACC 231), tropical (Chlamydomonas augustae UMACC 246, Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 001 and Amphiprora UMACC 259) and temperate (Chlamydomonas augustae UMACC 247, Chlorella vulgaris UMACC 248 and Navicula incerta UMACC 249) regions were exposed to different UVR conditions. The cultures were exposed to the following conditions: PAR (42 μmol photons m−2 s−1), PAR + UVA (854 μW cm−2) and PAR + UVA + UVB (117 μW cm−2). The cultures were subjected to UVA doses of 46.1, 92.2 and 184.4 J cm−2 and UVB doses of 6.3, 12.6 and 25.2 J cm−2 by varying the duration of their exposure (1.5, 3 and 6 h) to UVR during the light period (12:12 h light-dark cycle). UVA did not affect the growth of the microalgae, even at the highest dose. In contrast, growth was adversely affected by UVB, especially at the highest dose. The dose that caused 50% inhibition (ID50) in growth was used to assess the sensitivity of the microalgae to UVB. Sensitivity of the microalgae to UVB was species-dependent and also dependent on their biogeographic origin. Of the nine microalgae, the Antarctic Chlorella was most tolerant to UVB stress (ID50 = 21.0 J cm−2). Except for this Chlorella, the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids of the microalgae decreased in response to high doses of UVB. Fatty acid profile is a useful biomarker for UVB stress for some microalgae.


Antarctic algae Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) Chlorella Chlamydomonas Diatoms 



Ultraviolet radiation


Photosynthetically active radiation


Specific growth rate


Saturated fatty acids


Monounsaturated fatty acids


Polyunsaturated fatty acids



The grant from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Malaysia, coordinated by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), that supported this research is gratefully acknowledged. This research also forms part of a project under the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD #2694). The first author would like to thank MOSTI for the Pasca Postgraduate Fellowship. Thanks are also due to the staff of Casey Station, Antarctica, for their field assistance in sample collection.


  1. Bligh EG, Dyer WJ (1959) A rapid method of total lipid extraction and purification. Can J Biochem Physiol 37:911–917PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Buma AGJ, Wright SW, Van den Enden R, Van de Poll WH, Davidson A (2006) PAR acclimation and UVBR-induced DNA damage in Antarctic marine microalgae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 315:33–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chu WL, Phang SM, Goh SH (1994) Studies on the production of useful chemicals, especially fatty acids in the marine diatom Nitzschia conspicua Grunow. Hydrobiologia 285:33–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chu WL, Yuen YY, Wong CY, Teoh ML, Phang SM (2002) Isolation and culture of microalgae from the Windmill Islands Region, Antarctica. In: Proceedings of the Malaysian International Seminar on Antarctica: Opportunities for Research, University of Malaya, 5–6 August 2002, pp 53–59Google Scholar
  5. Chu WL, Wong CY, Teoh ML, Phang SM (2005) Response and adaptation of algae to the changing global environment. In: Kasai F, Kaya K, Watanabe MM (eds) Algal culture collections and the environment. Tokai University Press, Kanagawa, pp 177–195Google Scholar
  6. Davidson AT, Bramich D, Marchant HJ, McMinn A (1994) Effects of UV-B irradiation on growth and survival of Antarctic marine diatoms. Mar Biol 119:507–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ehling-Schulz M, Scherer S (1999) UV protection in cyanobacteria. Eur J Phycol 34:329–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Estevez MS, Malanga G, Puntarulo S (2001). UV-B effects on Antarctic Chlorella cells. J Photochem Photobiol B 62:19–25PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gao K, Guan W, Helbling EW (2007) Effects of solar ultra-violet radiation on photosynthesis of the marine red tide alga Heterosigma akashiwo (Raphidophyceae). J Photochem Photobiol B 88:140–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Han T, Chung H, Kang SH (1998) UV photobiology of marine macroalgae. Korean J Polar Res 9(1):37–46Google Scholar
  11. Helbling EW, Villafane VE, Buma AGJ, Andrade M, Zaratti F (2001) DNA damage and photosynthetic inhibition induced by solar ultraviolet radiation in tropical phytoplankton (Lake Titicaca, Bolivia). Eur J Phycol 36:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Helbling EW, Gao K, Goncalves RJ, Wu H, Villafane VE (2003) Utilization of solar UV radiation by coastal phytoplankton assemblages off South East China when exposed to fast mixing. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 259:59–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Helbling EW, Gao K, Ai H, Ma Z, Villafane VE (2006) Differential responses of Nostoc sphaeroides and Arthospira platensis to solar ultraviolet radiation exposure. J Appl Phycol 18:57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hernando M, Schloss I, Roy S, Ferreyra G (2006) Photoacclimation to long-term ultraviolet radiation exposure of natural sub-Antarctic phytoplankton communities: fixed surface incubations versus mixed mesocosms. Photochem Photobiol 82(4):923–935PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hughes KA (2006) Solar UV-B radiation, associated with ozone depletion, inhibits the Antarctic terrestrial microalga, Stichococcus bacillaris. Polar Biol 29:327–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huovinen P, Gomez I, Lovengreen C (2006) A five-year study of solar ultraviolet radiation in southern Chile (39 degrees S); potential impact on physiology of coastal marine algae? Photochem Photobiol 82(2):515–522PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Karsten U, Lembcke S, Schumann R (2006) The effects of ultraviolet radiation on photosynthetic performance, growth and sunscreen compounds in aeroterrestrial biofilm algae isolated from building facades. Planta 225(4):991–1000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kim DS, Watanabe Y (1993) The effect of long wave ultraviolet radiation (UV-A) on the photosynthetic activity of natural population of freshwater phytoplankton. Ecol Res 8:225–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lesser MP, Barry TM, Banaszak AT (2002) Effects of UV radiation on a chlorophyte alga (Scenedesmus sp.) isolated from the fumoarole fields of Mt. Erebus, Antarctica. J Phycol 38:473–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Madronich S, McKenzie RL, Caldwell MM, Bjorn LO (1995) Changes in ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. Ambio 24:143–152Google Scholar
  21. Malanga G, Kozak RG, Puntarulo S (1999) N-Acetylcyetin-dependent protection against UVB-damage in two photosynthetic organisms. Plant Sci 141:129–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mengelt C, Prezelin BB (2005) UVA enhancement of carbon fixation and resilience to UV inhibition in the genus Pseudo-nitzschia may provide a competitive advantage in high UV surface waters. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 301:81–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Orce VL, Helbling EW (1997) Latitudinal UVR-PAR measurements in Argentina: extent of the ‘ozone hole’. Global Planetary Change 15:113–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pakker H, Martins RST, Boelen P, Buma AGJ, Nikaido O, Breeman AM (2000) Effects of temperature on the photoreactivation of ultraviolet B-induced DNA damage in Palmaria palmata (Rhodhophyta). J Phycol 36:334–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rijstenbil JW (2001) Effects of periodic, low UVA radiation on cell characteristics and oxidative stress in the marine planktonic diatom Ditylum brightwellii. Eur J Phycol 36:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Shelly K, Simon S, Heraud P, Beardall J (2005) Interactions between UVB exposure and phosphorus nutrition. I. Effects on growth, phosphate uptake, and chlorophyll fluorescence. J Phycol 41:1204–1211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Skerratt JH, Davidson AD, Nichols PD, Meekin TA (1998) Effect of UV-B on lipid content of three Antarctic marine phytoplankton. Phytochemistry 49(4):999–1007CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Smith RC, Prezelin BB, Baker KS, Bidigare RR, Boucher NP, Coley T, Karentz D, MacIntyre S, Matlick HA, Menzies D, Ondrusek M, Wan Z, Waters KJ (1992) Ozone depletion: ultraviolet radiation and phytoplankton biology in Antarctic waters. Science 255:952–959PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Strickland JDH, Parsons TR (1968) A practical handbook of seawater analysis. Bull Fish Res Board Can 167:311Google Scholar
  30. Teoh ML, Chu WL, Marchant H, Phang SM (2004) Influence of culture temperature on the growth, biochemical composition and fatty acid profiles of six Antarctic microalgae. J Phycol 16:421–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Villafane VE, Marcoval MA, Helbling EW (2004) Photosynthesis versus irradiance characteristics in phytoplankton assemblages off Patagonia (Argentina): temporal variability and solar UVR effects. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 284:23–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang KS, Chai T (1994) Reduction in omega-3 fatty acids by UV-B irradiation in microalgae. J Appl Phycol 6:415–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. White AL, Jahnke LS (2002) Contrasting effects of UV-A and UV-B on photosynthesis and photoprotection of beta-carotene in two Dunaliella spp. Plant Cell Physiol 43(8):877–884PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wong CY, Chu WL, Marchant H, Phang SM (2004) Growth response, biochemical composition and fatty acid profiles of four Antarctic microalgae subjected to UV radiation stress. Mal J Sci 23(2):103–118Google Scholar
  35. Wu H, Gao K, Villafane VE, Watanabe T, Helbling EW (2006) Effects of solar UV radiation on morphology and photosynthesis of filamentous cyanobacterium Arthorspira platensis. Appl Environ Microbiol 71(9):5004–5013CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Y. Wong
    • 1
  • W. L. Chu
    • 1
    • 2
  • H. Marchant
    • 3
  • S. M. Phang
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.International Medical UniversityKuala LumpurMalaysia
  3. 3.Australian Antarctic DivisionChannel HighwayKingstonAustralia

Personalised recommendations