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MYCOSPORINE-LIKE AMINO ACIDS IN PHYTOPLANKTON: BIOCHEMISTRY, PHYSIOLOGY AND OPTICS $0.00
Authors:  Tiffany A. Moisan, Joaquim Goes and Patrick J. Neale
Abstract:
Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) are colorless water-soluble compounds with
a cyclohexenone chromophore conjugated to a nitrogen substituent of either an amino
acid or imino alcohol. MAAs have a high molar absorptivity in the UV-A and UV-B (280
nm to 400 nm) region, with absorption maxima for individual MAAs ranging from ~308
nm to ~360 nm. When present within phytoplankton cells, MAAs are considered to be
photochemically stable molecules acting as sunscreens against harmful ultraviolet (UV)
radiation. At times, MAAs can function as antioxidants and also as osmolytes. On
account of their low molecular weight, MAAs such as mycosporine-glycine, shinorine
and porphyra-334 can be quickly synthesized in response to light, nutrients or
temperature stress. High photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) and UV exposure
are the strongest inducing factors. The composition of the intracellular pool of MAAs is
however not steady. Due to the complex spectral light, nutrients, and species dependent
inter-conversions, the composition of the MAA pool can vary significantly during
phytoplankton growth. This environmentally and species-regulated production of a
diverse suite of MAAs appears to be advantageous to cells, because it improves their ability to acclimate to a wider window of spectral light quality and quantity. MAA
production is generally highest in phytoplankton species capable of forming large blooms
at the sea surface, where the photosynthetic machinery of the cells is susceptible to the
greatest damage by UV radiation or high levels of PAR. At maximum concentration,
MAAs strongly reduce the effects of solar UV at the wavelengths most inhibiting to
photosynthesis. Large amounts of intercellular MAAs are associated with surface
phytoplankton blooms. High concentrations of extracellular MAAs that are released into
the environment contribute significantly to elevated attenuation of UV light during
blooms. Given that the production of MAAs is species dependent, it has been suggested
that the overall suite of MAAs may be a factor in determining species composition in
phytoplankton assemblage essential for carbon cycle transfer and linkages. 


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