The fascinating diatom frustule—can it play a role for attenuation of UV radiation?
Diatoms are ubiquitous organisms in aquatic environments and are estimated to be responsible for 20–25 % of the total global primary production. A unique feature of diatoms is the silica wall, called the frustule. The frustule is characterized by species-specific intricate nanopatterning in the same size range as wavelengths of visible and ultraviolet (UV) light. This has prompted research into the possible role of the frustule in mediating light for the diatoms’ photosynthesis as well as into possible photonic applications of the diatom frustule. One of the possible biological roles, as well as area of potential application, is UV protection. In this review, we explore the possible adaptive value of the silica frustule with focus on research on the effect of UV radiation on diatoms. We also explore the possible effect of the frustules on UV radiation, from a theoretical, biological, and applied perspective, including recent experimental data on UV transmission of diatom frustules.
KeywordsUV protection Photonics Photobiology Nanopatterning Diatom
This work was funded by The Danish Research Council (project ALPHA 12-127569). Sandra Walby helped with laboratory work and Jacob Snebjørn Brøgger Kristensen did preliminary studies on transmission through a spin-coated layer of frustules. Tomas Benzon helped with graphics in Fig. 2. Three anonymous reviewers are thanked for their comments that helped improve the manuscript.
- Butcher KSA, Ferris JM Phillips MR (2003) Photoluminescence and cathodoluminescence studies of diatoms—nature’s own nano-porous silica structures. In: Cashion J, Finlayson T, Paganin D, Smith A, Troup G (eds) Proceedings of the 27th A and NZ Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting, 4–7 February. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, p 51Google Scholar
- Coleman EA (2011) Polymer additives. In: Kutz M (ed) Applied Plastics Engineering Handbook, William Andrew, pp. 419-428.Google Scholar
- De Stefano L, De Stefano M, Maddalena P, Moretti L, Rea I, Mocella V, Rendina I (2007b) Playing with light in diatoms: small water organisms with a natural photonic crystal structure. Proc SPIE 6593 Photon Mater Devices Appl II:6593–59313Google Scholar
- Di Caprio G, Coppola G, De Stefano L, De Stefano M, Antonucci A, Congestri R, De Tommasi E (2014) Shedding light on diatom photonics by means of digital holography. J Biophotonics 7:341–350:41Google Scholar
- Gijsman P (2011) Polymer stabilization. In: Kutz M. Applied Plastics Engineering Handbook, William Andrew, pp 375–399Google Scholar
- Hargraves PE, Zhang J, Wang R, Shimiz Y (1993) Growth characteristics of the diatoms Pseudonitzschia pungens and P. fraudulenta exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Hydrobiologia 269:207–212Google Scholar
- Hsu SH, Paoletti C, Torres M, Ritchie RJ, Larkum AWD, Grillet C (2012) Light transmission of the marine diatom Coscinodiscus wailesii. Proc. SPIE 8339, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2012, 83390F. doi: 10.1117/12.915044
- Jeffrey SW, MacTavish HS, Dunlap WC, Vesk M, Groenewoud K (1999) Occurrence of UVA- and UVB-absorbing compounds in 152 species (206 strains) of marine microalgae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 189:35–51Google Scholar
- Johnsen S, Sosik H (2004) Shedding light on the light in the ocean. Oceanus Mag 43Google Scholar
- LeDuff P, Roesijadi G, Rorrera GL (2016) Micro-photoluminescence of single living diatom cells. Luminescence. doi: 10.1002/bio.3118
- Ottesen P. (2011) Processing and characterization of diatoms for light harvesting materials on solar cells. Masters thesis, Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyGoogle Scholar
- Sandhage KH, Dickerson MB, Huseman PM, Caranna MA, Clifton JD, Bull TA, Heibel TJ, Overton WR, Schoenwaelder MEA (2002) Novel, bioclastic route to self-assembled, 3D, chemically tailored meso/nanostructures: shape-preserving reactive conversion of biosilica (diatom) microshells. Adv Mat 14:429–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Xu J, Gao K (2010) Use of UV-A energy for photosynthesis in the red macroalga Gracilaria lemaneiformis. Photochem Photobiol 86:580–585Google Scholar