Riboflavin, overproduced during sporulation of Ashbya gossypii, protects its hyaline spores against ultraviolet light

Environ Microbiol. 2001 Sep;3(9):545-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-2920.2001.00225.x.


Riboflavin (vitamin B2), essential in tiny amounts as a precursor for oxidoreductase coenzymes, is a yellow pigment. Although it causes cytotoxicity via photoinduced damage of macromolecules, several microorganisms are striking overproducers. A question, unanswered for decades, is whether riboflavin overproducers can benefit from this property. Here, we report an ultraviolet (UV) protective effect of riboflavin. The spores of Ashbya gossypii, a riboflavin-overproducing fungus, are more sensitive to UV than those of Aspergillus nidulans. The addition of riboflavin to suspensions improves the UV resistance of both spore types. Interestingly, we show that regulation of sporulation and riboflavin overproduction in A. gossypii are linked. In batch culture, both were elevated when growth ceased. At constant growth rates, obtained in a chemostat culture, neither was elevated. Supplementation of cultures by cAMP, a known stress signal, negatively affected sporulation as well as riboflavin overproduction, establishing a second, independent argument for the linkage.

MeSH terms

  • Hyalin
  • Kinetics
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Riboflavin / biosynthesis
  • Riboflavin / genetics
  • Riboflavin / physiology*
  • Saccharomycetales / enzymology
  • Saccharomycetales / physiology*
  • Saccharomycetales / radiation effects
  • Spores, Fungal / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Riboflavin