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Netherlands Polar Data Center

Publication - Depth distributions of DNA damage in Antarctic marine phyto- and bacterioplankton exposed to summertime ultraviolet radiation.

Abstract

During a survey from January to March 1998, the occurrence of UV-B radiation (UVBR)- induced DNA damage in Antarctic marine phytoplankton and bacterioplankton was investigated. Sampling was done in Ryder Bay, off the British base Rothera Station, 67°S, 68°W (British Antarctic Survey). Samples were taken regularly during the survey period at fixed depths, after which DNA damage was measured in various plankton size fractions (>10, 2–10, and 0.2–2 μm). Incident solar radiation was measured using spectroradiometry, whereas attenuation of biologically effective UVBR was studied using a DNA dosimeter. A diatom bloom was found in the bay during the research period, judging from microscopic observations and HPLC analyses of taxon-specific pigments. The high phytoplankton biomass likely caused strong attenuation of DNA effective UVBR (Kbd-eff). Kbd-eff values ranged from 0.83·m−1 at the peak of the bloom to 0.47·m−1 at the end of the season. UVBR-mediated DNA damage, as measured by cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD) abundance, was detected in all plankton size fractions. Highest levels were found in the smallest size fraction, mainly consisting of heterotrophic bacteria. Clear CPD depth profiles were found during mid-summer (January, beginning of February) with surface levels exceeding 100 CPDs per million nucleotides in the bacterioplankton fraction. At that time, melting of the continuously present shelf ice caused strong salinity gradients in the upper meters, thereby stimulating water column stabilization. At the end of February and beginning of March, this phenomenon was less pronounced or absent. At that time, DNA damage was homogeneously distributed over the first 10 m, ranging between 20 and 30 CPDs per million nucleotides for the smallest size fraction.

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