Functional biomolecules of Antarctic stromatolitic and endolithic cyanobacterial communities

David D. Wynn-Williams, H. G M Edwards, Ferran Garcia-Pichel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

For activity and survival in extreme terrestrial Antarctic habitats, lithobiontic cyanobacteria depend on key biomolecules for protection against environmental stress and for optimization of growth conditions. Their ability to synthesize such molecules is central to their pioneering characteristics and major role as primary producers in Antarctic desert habitats. Pigmentation is especially important in protecting them against enhanced UVB damage during stratospheric ozone depletion (the Ozone Hole) during the Antarctic spring and subsequent photoinhibition in the intense insolation of the summer. To be effective, especially for the screening of highly shade-adapted photosystems of cyanobacteria, protective pigments need to be located strategically. Antarctic lithic cyanobacterial communities are therefore stratified, as in soil biofilms of Alexander Island, the benthic stromatolitic mats of ice-covered hypersaline lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, and the endolithic communities within translucent Beacon sandstone outcrops of Victoria Land. The protective pigments include scytonemin, carotenoids, anthroquinones and mycosporine-like amino acids. To detect and locate photoprotective pigments in situ in free-living cyanobacteria and cyanolichens from hot and cold desert habitats, we have used Fourier-transform Raman microspectroscopy. With appropriate power inputs for labile molecules, this high-precision, non-intrusive laser-based technique can not only identify biomolecules in their natural state but also locate them spatially within the habitat relative to the components of the community, which require protection. In conjunction with direct and epifluorescence microscopy it provides a spatial and functional description of the protective strategy of a community. We present the unique Raman spectrum of scytonemin and use its primary and corroborative peaks to identify it within the plethora of other biochemical constituents of several natural cyanobacterial communities, including an Antarctic endolith. The remote-sensing aspect of this technique makes it suitable not only for spatial biochemical analysis of present and palaeontological Antarctic communities but also for analogous putative habitats on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Phycology
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

habitat
pigment
cyanobacterium
Cyanobacteria
habitats
pigments
desert
deserts
photoinhibition
ozone depletion
Raman spectroscopy
carotenoid
environmental stress
insolation
environmental protection
Fourier transform
biofilm
sandstone
Mars
microscopy

Keywords

  • Antarctic
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Endolithic
  • Lichens
  • Lithic
  • Pigments
  • Raman
  • S pectroscopy
  • Scytonemin
  • Ultraviolet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Functional biomolecules of Antarctic stromatolitic and endolithic cyanobacterial communities. / Wynn-Williams, David D.; Edwards, H. G M; Garcia-Pichel, Ferran.

In: European Journal of Phycology, Vol. 34, No. 4, 10.1999, p. 381-391.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{da0d387af112428cbef5a2e2046ee555,
title = "Functional biomolecules of Antarctic stromatolitic and endolithic cyanobacterial communities",
abstract = "For activity and survival in extreme terrestrial Antarctic habitats, lithobiontic cyanobacteria depend on key biomolecules for protection against environmental stress and for optimization of growth conditions. Their ability to synthesize such molecules is central to their pioneering characteristics and major role as primary producers in Antarctic desert habitats. Pigmentation is especially important in protecting them against enhanced UVB damage during stratospheric ozone depletion (the Ozone Hole) during the Antarctic spring and subsequent photoinhibition in the intense insolation of the summer. To be effective, especially for the screening of highly shade-adapted photosystems of cyanobacteria, protective pigments need to be located strategically. Antarctic lithic cyanobacterial communities are therefore stratified, as in soil biofilms of Alexander Island, the benthic stromatolitic mats of ice-covered hypersaline lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, and the endolithic communities within translucent Beacon sandstone outcrops of Victoria Land. The protective pigments include scytonemin, carotenoids, anthroquinones and mycosporine-like amino acids. To detect and locate photoprotective pigments in situ in free-living cyanobacteria and cyanolichens from hot and cold desert habitats, we have used Fourier-transform Raman microspectroscopy. With appropriate power inputs for labile molecules, this high-precision, non-intrusive laser-based technique can not only identify biomolecules in their natural state but also locate them spatially within the habitat relative to the components of the community, which require protection. In conjunction with direct and epifluorescence microscopy it provides a spatial and functional description of the protective strategy of a community. We present the unique Raman spectrum of scytonemin and use its primary and corroborative peaks to identify it within the plethora of other biochemical constituents of several natural cyanobacterial communities, including an Antarctic endolith. The remote-sensing aspect of this technique makes it suitable not only for spatial biochemical analysis of present and palaeontological Antarctic communities but also for analogous putative habitats on Mars.",
keywords = "Antarctic, Cyanobacteria, Endolithic, Lichens, Lithic, Pigments, Raman, S pectroscopy, Scytonemin, Ultraviolet",
author = "Wynn-Williams, {David D.} and Edwards, {H. G M} and Ferran Garcia-Pichel",
year = "1999",
month = "10",
doi = "10.1017/S0967026299002309",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "34",
pages = "381--391",
journal = "European Journal of Phycology",
issn = "0967-0262",
publisher = "Taylor and Francis Ltd.",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Functional biomolecules of Antarctic stromatolitic and endolithic cyanobacterial communities

AU - Wynn-Williams, David D.

AU - Edwards, H. G M

AU - Garcia-Pichel, Ferran

PY - 1999/10

Y1 - 1999/10

N2 - For activity and survival in extreme terrestrial Antarctic habitats, lithobiontic cyanobacteria depend on key biomolecules for protection against environmental stress and for optimization of growth conditions. Their ability to synthesize such molecules is central to their pioneering characteristics and major role as primary producers in Antarctic desert habitats. Pigmentation is especially important in protecting them against enhanced UVB damage during stratospheric ozone depletion (the Ozone Hole) during the Antarctic spring and subsequent photoinhibition in the intense insolation of the summer. To be effective, especially for the screening of highly shade-adapted photosystems of cyanobacteria, protective pigments need to be located strategically. Antarctic lithic cyanobacterial communities are therefore stratified, as in soil biofilms of Alexander Island, the benthic stromatolitic mats of ice-covered hypersaline lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, and the endolithic communities within translucent Beacon sandstone outcrops of Victoria Land. The protective pigments include scytonemin, carotenoids, anthroquinones and mycosporine-like amino acids. To detect and locate photoprotective pigments in situ in free-living cyanobacteria and cyanolichens from hot and cold desert habitats, we have used Fourier-transform Raman microspectroscopy. With appropriate power inputs for labile molecules, this high-precision, non-intrusive laser-based technique can not only identify biomolecules in their natural state but also locate them spatially within the habitat relative to the components of the community, which require protection. In conjunction with direct and epifluorescence microscopy it provides a spatial and functional description of the protective strategy of a community. We present the unique Raman spectrum of scytonemin and use its primary and corroborative peaks to identify it within the plethora of other biochemical constituents of several natural cyanobacterial communities, including an Antarctic endolith. The remote-sensing aspect of this technique makes it suitable not only for spatial biochemical analysis of present and palaeontological Antarctic communities but also for analogous putative habitats on Mars.

AB - For activity and survival in extreme terrestrial Antarctic habitats, lithobiontic cyanobacteria depend on key biomolecules for protection against environmental stress and for optimization of growth conditions. Their ability to synthesize such molecules is central to their pioneering characteristics and major role as primary producers in Antarctic desert habitats. Pigmentation is especially important in protecting them against enhanced UVB damage during stratospheric ozone depletion (the Ozone Hole) during the Antarctic spring and subsequent photoinhibition in the intense insolation of the summer. To be effective, especially for the screening of highly shade-adapted photosystems of cyanobacteria, protective pigments need to be located strategically. Antarctic lithic cyanobacterial communities are therefore stratified, as in soil biofilms of Alexander Island, the benthic stromatolitic mats of ice-covered hypersaline lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, and the endolithic communities within translucent Beacon sandstone outcrops of Victoria Land. The protective pigments include scytonemin, carotenoids, anthroquinones and mycosporine-like amino acids. To detect and locate photoprotective pigments in situ in free-living cyanobacteria and cyanolichens from hot and cold desert habitats, we have used Fourier-transform Raman microspectroscopy. With appropriate power inputs for labile molecules, this high-precision, non-intrusive laser-based technique can not only identify biomolecules in their natural state but also locate them spatially within the habitat relative to the components of the community, which require protection. In conjunction with direct and epifluorescence microscopy it provides a spatial and functional description of the protective strategy of a community. We present the unique Raman spectrum of scytonemin and use its primary and corroborative peaks to identify it within the plethora of other biochemical constituents of several natural cyanobacterial communities, including an Antarctic endolith. The remote-sensing aspect of this technique makes it suitable not only for spatial biochemical analysis of present and palaeontological Antarctic communities but also for analogous putative habitats on Mars.

KW - Antarctic

KW - Cyanobacteria

KW - Endolithic

KW - Lichens

KW - Lithic

KW - Pigments

KW - Raman

KW - S pectroscopy

KW - Scytonemin

KW - Ultraviolet

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0032787107&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0032787107&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/S0967026299002309

DO - 10.1017/S0967026299002309

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0032787107

VL - 34

SP - 381

EP - 391

JO - European Journal of Phycology

JF - European Journal of Phycology

SN - 0967-0262

IS - 4

ER -