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Keywords:

  • Coccomyxa;
  • Lobosphaera;
  • MAAs;
  • Myrmecia;
  • Prasiola;
  • Prasiolopsis;
  • rDNA phylogeny;
  • terrestrial green algae;
  • Trebouxiophyceae;
  • Trichophilus;
  • UV radiation

A UV-absorbing mycosporine-like amino acid (324 nm-MAA), so far only known from the green macroalgal genus Prasiola (Trebouxiophyceae), was also identified in other morphologically diverse green algae closely related to Prasiola spp. in 18S rDNA phylogenies. Using HPLC, a second UV-absorbing compound was found only in Myrmecia incisa Reisigal among all studied strains. This substance showed an absorption maximum at 322 nm and hence was designated as putative 322 nm-MAA. Preliminary UV-exposure experiments indicated that all species containing one or the other MAA showed a strong accumulation of the respective compound, thus supporting their function as putative UV sunscreen. Both UV-absorbing substances were only identified in the studied members of the Trebouxiophyceae but were absent in members of the Ulvophyceae and Chlorophyceae. When mapped on an 18S rDNA phylogeny, the distribution of 324 nm-MAA was found to be scattered within the Trebouxiophyceae but was consistent with a distribution that follows phylogenetic patterns rather than ecological adaptations. The 324 nm-MAA was also detected in two phylogenetically related species from freshwater as well as from subaerial habitats, Watanabea reniformis Hanagata et al. and isolate UR7/5, which were phylogenetically independent of Prasiola and its closer allies. MAAs were absent in another Trebouxiophyceae clade comprising lichen photobionts (Coccomyxa pringsheimii Jaag) as well as freshwater picoplanktonic algae (Choricystis minor (Skuja) Fott). The data presented suggest a chemotaxonomic value of the 324 nm-MAA in green algal taxonomy. To address the paraphyly of the genus Myrmecia Printz as presently circumscribed, we propose the new combination Lobosphaera incisa.