Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2010 Apr 16;8(4):1273-91.
doi: 10.3390/md8041273.

Distribution and Abundance of MAAs in 33 Species of Microalgae Across 13 Classes

Free PMC article

Distribution and Abundance of MAAs in 33 Species of Microalgae Across 13 Classes

Carole Anne Llewellyn et al. Mar Drugs. .
Free PMC article


We provide a direct comparison of the distribution and abundance of mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) in a diverse range of microalgal cultures (33 species across 13 classes) grown without supplementary ultraviolet radiation (UV). We compare the MAAs in cultures with those present in characterised natural phytoplankton populations from the English Channel. We detected 25 UV absorbing compounds including at least two with multiple absorption maxima. We used LC-MS to provide chemical characterisation of the six most commonly occurring MAAs, namely, palythene, palythine, mycosporine-glycine, palythenic acid, porphyra-334 and shinorine. MAAs were abundant (up to 7 pg MAA cell(-1)) in 10 species, with more minor and often unknown MAAs in a further 11 cultures. Shinorine was the most frequently occurring and abundant MAA (up to 6.5 pg cell(-1)) and was present in all but two of the MAA-containing species. The study provides further insight into the diversity and abundance of MAAs important from an ecological perspective and as potential source of natural alternatives to synthetic sunscreens.

Keywords: MAAs; microalgal cultures; phytoplankton.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Chemical structures of MAAs referred to in the text.
Figure 2
Figure 2
HPLC chromatograms (330 nm) of representative cultures and phytoplankton samples. See Table 1 for peak assignments. P = photosynthetic pigment.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 24 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Dunlap WC, Yamamoto Y. Small-molecule antioxidants in marine organisms: Antioxidant activity of mycosporine-glycine. Comp Biochem Physiol B. 1995;112:105–114.
    1. Oren A, Gunde-Cimerman N. Mycosporines and mycosproine-like amino acids: UV protectants or multipurpose secondary metabolites. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007;269:1–10. - PubMed
    1. Favre-Bonvin J, Arpin N, Brevard C. Structure de la mycosporine (p310) Can J Chem. 1976;54:1105–1113.
    1. Karentz D. Chemical defences of marine organisms against solar radiation exposure: UV-absorbing mycosporine-like amino acids and scytonemin. In: McClintock JB, Baker BJ, editors. Marine Chemical Ecology. CRC Press; Boca Raton, Florida: 2001. pp. 481–520.
    1. Shick JM, Dunlap WC. Mycosporine-like amino acids and related gadusols: Biosynthesis, accumulation and UV-protective functions in aquatic organisms. Ann Rev Physiol. 2002;64:223–262. - PubMed

Publication types