Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 9, pp 1159–1172 | Cite as

Effects of ultraviolet radiation on protein content, respiratory electron transport system (ETS) activity and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity of Antarctic plankton

  • Rosa MartínezEmail author
Original Paper


Depletion of stratospheric ozone causes a significant increase in UV radiation in the Antarctic regions. Its effects include DNA damage, as well as impairment of photosynthesis, respiration, protein synthesis and other metabolic functions. Defence systems of cells are directed against free oxygen radicals liberated through UV radiation. One of their main components of defence systems are superoxide dismutases (SODs). The effects of ultraviolet radiation A and B (UVAR and UVBR) on protein synthesis, respiratory electron transfer (ETS) activity and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in Antarctic plankton were examined. Samples were taken in the Gerlache Strait (Antarctica). Three stations were situated in an area, which showed a Cryptomonas bloom. Two stations were located in areas having a bloom of green nanoflagellates. Samples were exposed for 3 h to photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), or to PAR + UVAR or to PAR + UVAR + UVBR, under fixed experimental irradiances. UVBR inhibited protein synthesis and ETS activity, and enhanced SOD activity. UVAR enhanced protein synthesis and ETS activity, and inhibited SOD activity. Samples, which had received more solar radiation prior to experiments showed less inhibition of protein synthesis by experimental UVBR, which suggests acclimation to ambient radiation. Cryptomonas-dominated stations showed less SOD activity than the green flagellate-dominated stations, which might be related to the protection conferred by their phycoerythrin.


Antarctic plankton Respiratory ETS UV radiation effect Superoxide dismutase activity 



This work was funded by the CICYT (Spanish Ministry of Education and Science) Project ANT94-1010. I thank the crew of the R/V Hesperides for help on board and my scientific colleagues for fruitful cooperation. I am indebted to F.L. Figueroa for providing radiation data. J. Beardall and two anonymous referees provided helpful comments and suggestions that substantially improved an earlier manuscript version.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias y Técnicas del AguaUniversidad de CantabriaSantanderSpain
  2. 2.School of AquacultureUniversity of TasmaniaLauncestonAustralia

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