DNA damage induced by ultraviolet radiation in coral-reef microbial communities
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Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has been implicated in coral-bleaching processes and UVR may create stress to marine organisms by damage to DNA. Absorption of energy from UVB (280 to 320 nm) induces direct damage to DNA via cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer photoproduct-formation. We examined the extent of DNA damage created by UVR in coral reef microbial communities and whether the coral-surface microlayer (CSM) provides protection from UVR to the microorganisms found there. Diel patterns and depth profiles of UVR effects were examined in coral mucus (coral-surface microlayer, CSM) from Montastraea faveolata and Colpophyllia natans, and water-column samples of similar depths. UV-induced photodamage was determined using a radioimmunoassay specific for cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (thymine dimers). Significant photodamage was detected in water-column and CSM samples, although the level of damage in CSM samples was consistently lower than in water-column samples collected from the same depth, suggesting the presence of photoprotective mechanisms within the CSM. Diel patterns of photodamage were detected in both water-column and CSM samples, but peak damage occurred earlier in the day for the CSM samples, suggesting differences in damage and repair kinetics between the water column and CSM. The results suggest that microorganisms within the CSM are afforded some protection from UVR stress and that changes in the amount of DNA damage in these organisms may be an indicator of changing UVR stress to corals.
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