Plant Growth Regulation

, 65:389 | Cite as

UV-B radiation induces changes in polyamine metabolism in the red seaweed Porphyra cinnamomea

  • K. Schweikert
  • J. E. S. Sutherland
  • C. L. Hurd
  • D. J. Burritt
Original paper


Early investigations on the productivity of intertidal seaweeds found that, unlike some seaweeds, members of the genus Porphyra, a Rhodophyte, could tolerate physical stressors such as ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B) both during immersion and when exposed to air. Increased stress tolerance was thought to be due to an unknown mechanism that operated at the thylakoid level. As recent research has shown that polyamines (PAs), bound to the thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts, play a critical role in protecting the photosynthetic apparatus from high-light and UV damage in both higher plants and in unicellular algae, we investigated PA metabolism in Porphyra cinnamomea exposed to UV-B. Our results show that PA biosynthesis was significantly upregulated in P. cinnamomea in response to UV-B, with the greatest proportional increases being in bound soluble putrescine (PUT), which increased by over 200%, in bound soluble spermidine (SPD) and spermine (SPM) which both increased by more than 150% and in bound insoluble SPM which increased by more than 120%. As PAs can be synthesised from ornithine via ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) or from arginine via arginine decarboxylase (ADC) we investigated the pathway via which polyamines were synthesised in P. cinnamomea. While exposure to UV-B caused increases in the activities of both ADC and ODC, the increase in ADC activity was 10 fold greater than that of ODC, suggesting that the ADC pathway was the principle route by which PA levels increased in response to UV-B. Mechanisms of PA mediated UV-B protection are discussed.


Porphyra cinnamomea Rhodophyta Ultraviolet-B radiation Polyamines Ornithine decarboxylase Arginine decarboxylase 



Arginine decarboxylase






Ornithine decarboxylase




Photosynthetically active radiation








Ultraviolet radiation A (400–315 nm)


Ultraviolet radiation B (315–280 nm)



The work was funded by a University of Otago Research Grant to J.E.B., C.L.H. and D.J.B. K.S. was funded by an University of Otago postgraduate scholarship. We thank L. Kregting for support in the laboratory. B. Niven provided valuable help with statistical analysis.

Supplementary material

10725_2011_9614_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (68 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 68 kb)
10725_2011_9614_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (94 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 93 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Schweikert
    • 1
  • J. E. S. Sutherland
    • 2
  • C. L. Hurd
    • 1
  • D. J. Burritt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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