8. Ultraviolet photoprotective compounds from cyanobacteria in biomedical applications

  1. Naveen K. Sharma3,
  2. Ashwani K. Rai4 and
  3. Lucas J. Stal5
  1. Tanya Soule1 and
  2. Ferran Garcia-Pichel2

Published Online: 30 NOV 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118402238.ch8

Cyanobacteria: An Economic Perspective

Cyanobacteria: An Economic Perspective

How to Cite

Soule, T. and Garcia-Pichel, F. (2014) Ultraviolet photoprotective compounds from cyanobacteria in biomedical applications, in Cyanobacteria: An Economic Perspective (eds N. K. Sharma, A. K. Rai and L. J. Stal), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118402238.ch8

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, India

  2. 4

    Banaras Hindu University, India

  3. 5

    Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research & University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, IN 46805

  2. 2

    School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 NOV 2013
  2. Published Print: 10 JAN 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119941279

Online ISBN: 9781118402238



  • biomedicine;
  • cyanobacteria;
  • photoprotection;
  • Scytonemin;
  • sunscreens;
  • Tinosorb;
  • ultraviolet radiation (UVR)


Cyanobacteria are among the few groups of microorganisms for which a full array of evolutionary adaptations to photoprotection have been studied. Among these, the synthesis of dedicated secondary metabolites to function as sunscreens and antioxidants has high potential for application in the biomedical industry. This chapter reviews these photoprotective compounds in the light of their biology and compares them with current, synthetic alternatives, so as to establish their potential that includes industrial practices and standards. Scytonemin is an attractive natural product that has antiproliferative properties. The broad spectrum ultraviolet radiation (UVR) filter Tinosorb can increase the ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of cotton T-shirts to 30, and remains stable through multiple washings. An approach to overcoming obstacles to mass sunscreen production would be to exert transcriptional control over sunscreen biosynthesis, regardless of the UVR input or the amount of sunscreen already accumulated.