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Phenylpropanoids, mainly flavonoid derivatives, located in the epidermis have been reported to protect higher plants from absorbing harmful UV radiation [37; 25]. Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) and the sheath pigment, scytonemin, are thought to accomplish a similar function in cyanobacteria [13; 16; 17; 20; 42]. MAAs are water soluble substances characterized by a cyclohexenone or cyclohexenimine chromophore conjugated with the nitrogen substituent of an amino acid or its imino alcohol, having absorption maxima ranging from 310 to 360 nm .
g. excision repair). A critical situation arises when there is a carryover of lesions not repaired before the next exposure, so that there is a build up of dimers in the genetic material. Other protective mechanisms of phytoplankton rely on the absorption of solar UV by a cellular “sunscreen”. Many phytoplankton (but also macroalgae) produce one or more mycosporine-like amino acids.
See Figure 1. Proteins can exist in many forms and have dozens of functions. Muscle is composed of protein fibers, enzymes are specialized proteins that act as biological catalysts, some fibrous proteins act as scaffolds for cytoskeletons, fluorescent proteins (and/or non-fluorescent chromoproteins) which give corals their wondrous colorations, mycosporine-like amino acids.
For example, brown seaweeds contain beta-carotene, fucoxanthin, and violaxanthin. In addition, seaweed contains some unique compounds, such as various fucoidans (found in brown seaweeds), stearidonic acid (brown seaweeds), phlorotannins (kelp), mycosporine-like amino acids and phenolic acid (dulse), all of which have been shown to have anticancer properties in the laboratory. Various extracts of seaweed have been shown to inhibit the growth of colon and breast cancer cells in the laboratory.
Sun-screening bioactive compounds mycosporine-like amino acids in naturally occurring cyanobacterial biofilms: role in photoprotection R. P. Rastogi, D. Madamwar and A.
Kuffner, I. B. , M. E. Ondrusek and M. P. Lesser, 1995. Distribution of mycosporine-like amino acids in the tissues of Hawaiian scleractinia: a depth profile. In: Ultraviolet Radiation and Coral Reefs. D. Gulko and P. L. Jokiel, eds.
The algal symbionts convert inorganic carbon into carbohydrates for use by each partner and release oxygen to the animal host in the process. To accommodate the algae, the anemone must provide concentrated carbon dioxide to their intracellular photosynthetic guests as well as photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) to fuel the photosynthetic process. This restricts the symbiotic organism to euphotic habitats and requires consistent exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). To protect from potentially damaging UVR, the algae provide mycosporine-like amino acids.