Ecological Biochemistry

Natural sunscreens

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Science  12 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6240, pp. 1219
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6240.1219-c

The Sun is the primary source of the world's energy, but it is also a powerful source of damaging radiation. Many small organisms, including bacteria, algae, and marine invertebrates, produce amino acid compounds that protect them from the Sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Known as mycrosporine-like amino acids (MAAs), these compounds have also been found in marine fishes, where they were presumed to be diet- or symbiont-derived. Osborn et al., however, report that zebrafish are able to produce such compounds de novo. Further, that the identified genetic pathway underlying their production is also present in the genomes of other vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, and birds, suggesting that such internal sun protection could be widespread.

eLife 10.7554/eLife.05919 (2015).

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