Release of ultraviolet-absorbing compounds by the red-tide dinoflagellate <i>Lingulodinium polyedra</i>

Vernet, M, Whitehead K.  1996.  Release of ultraviolet-absorbing compounds by the red-tide dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedra. Marine Biology. 127:35-44.

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amino-acids, antarctic phytoplankton, dissolved organic-matter, energy-dissipation, great-barrier-reef, light, marine-phytoplankton, photosynthesis, raman-scattering, uv-b radiation


We tested the hypothesis that ultraviolet-absorbing compounds known as mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) are not only synthesized but also excreted by marine phytoplankton. An experiment was performed with cultures of the marine dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedra (previously known as Gonyaulax polyedra) exposed to visible (photosynthetically available, PAR, 400 to 700 nm) and ultraviolet (UV, 290 to 400 nm) radiation. Absorption properties of both particulate and dissolved organic matter pools (POM and DOM, respectively) showed maxima in ultraviolet absorption at 360 nm. Chromatographic analysis confirmed the presence of MAAs in both pools. Release of organic matter by L. polyedra, as measured spectrophotometrically by changes in UV absorption in the surrounding medium, showed a differential increase at 360 nm in cultures exposed to UV-B + PAR radiation. The changes in absorption in the DOM fraction were inversely proportional to intracellular UV absorption. Photodegradation experiments in which the DOM fraction was exposed to visible and UV-B radiation showed a decrease in absorption with dose. First-order photooxidation decay rates varied between -0.005 and -0.26 m(2) (mol quanta)(-1) and were also a function of the initial optical density (OD). These results indicate that UV-absorbing compounds synthesized by phytoplankton, such as certain dinoflagellates, may be a component of the DOM pool in surface waters of the ocean and contribute to the attenuation of UV radiation in the water column. Photooxidation consumes only 3 to 10% of the daily production of the DOM absorbing between 280 and 390 nm (including MAAs). This suggests that MAAs dissolved in seawater may contribute to the decrease of UV transmission through the water column on a time scale representative of phytoplankton growth (days) and bloom development (weeks).