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Response of arctic snow and permafrost algae to high light and nitrogen stress by changes in pigment composition and applied aspects for biotechnology

: Leya, T.; Rahn, A.; Lütz, C.; Remias, D.


FEMS Microbiology Ecology 67 (2009), Nr.3, S.432-443
ISSN: 0168-6496
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

Ten algal strains from snow and permafrost substrates were tested for their ability to produce secondary carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol in response to high light and decreased nitrogen levels. The Culture Collection of Cryophilic Algae at Fraunhofer IBMT in Potsdam served as the bioresource for this study. Eight of the strains belong to the Chlorophyceae and two strains are affiliated to the Trebouxiophyceae. While under low light, all 10 strains produced the normal spectrum of primary pigments known to be present in Chlorophyta, only the eight chlorophyceaen strains were able to synthesize secondary carotenoids under stress conditions, namely canthaxanthin, echinenone and astaxanthin; seven of them were also able to synthesize minor amounts of adonixanthin and an unidentified hydroxyechinenone. The two trebouxiophyceaen species of Raphidonema exhibited an unusually high pool of primary xanthophyll cycle pigments, possibly serving as a buffering reservoir against excessive irradiation. They also proved to be good alpha-tocopherol producers, which might also support the deactivation of reactive oxygen species. This study showed that some strains might be interesting novel candidates for biotechnological applications. Cold-adapted, snow and permafrost algae might serve as valuable production strains still exhibiting acceptable growth rates during the cold season in temperate regions.