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Ultraviolet radiation screening compounds

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-345
Number of pages35
JournalBiological reviews of the cambridge philosophical society
Volume74
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1999

Abstract

Amongst the diversity of methods used by organisms to reduce damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the synthesis of UV-screening compounds is almost ubiquitous. UV-screening compounds provide a passive method for the reduction of UV-induced damage and they are widely distributed across the microbial, plant and animal kingdoms. They share some common chemical features. It is likely that on early earth strong selection pressures existed for the evolution of UV-screening compounds. Many of these compounds probably had other physiological roles, later being selected for the efficacy of UV screening. The diversity in physiological functions is one of the complications in studying UV-screening compounds and determining the true ecological importance of their UV-screening role. As well as providing protection against ambient UV radiation, species with effective screening may also be at an advantage during natural ozone depletion events. In this review the characteristics of a wide diversity of UV-screening compounds are discussed and evolutionary questions are explored. As research into the range of UV-screening compounds represented in the biosphere continues, so it is likely that the properties of many more compounds will be elucidated. These compounds, as well as providing us with insights into natural responses to UV radiation, may also have implications for the development of artificial UV-screening methods to reduce human exposure to UV radiation.

    Research areas

  • UV radiation, evolution, screening, compounds, UV-B RADIATION, CYANOBACTERIUM NOSTOC-COMMUNE, URCHIN STRONGYLOCENTROTUS-DROEBACHIENSIS, ANTARCTIC MARINE DIATOMS, TROPICAL SOLAR-RADIATION, PARA-AMINOBENZOIC ACID, AMINO-ACIDS, OPTICAL-PROPERTIES, OZONE-DEPLETION, ANTHOCYANIN FORMATION

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