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Raman spectroscopy of senescing snow algae: pigmentation changes in an Antarctic cold desert extremophile

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2004

Howell G.M. Edwards
Affiliation:
Chemical and Forensic Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP, UK
Luiz F.C. de Oliveira
Affiliation:
Chemical and Forensic Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP, UK Nucleo de Espectroscopia e Estrutiva Molecular, Departmento de Quimica, Instituto de Ciencias Exatas, Universidade Federale de Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais 36036-330, Brazil
Charles S. Cockell
Affiliation:
British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK e-mail: h.g.m.edwards@bradford.ac.uk
J. Cynan Ellis-Evans
Affiliation:
British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK e-mail: h.g.m.edwards@bradford.ac.uk
David D. Wynn-Williams
Affiliation:
British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK e-mail: h.g.m.edwards@bradford.ac.uk

Abstract

The FT-Raman spectra are described of green and red snow algae, Chlamydomona, involved in the colonization of exposed surfaces of the McLeod Glacier, Jane Col, Signy Island, situated at the northern edge of the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. The protective biochemicals produced by these extremophilic algae give rise to the so-called watermelon snow of Alpine regions. The red colour of the senescent algae is shown to derive from the accumulation of carotenoids and a deficiency of chlorophyll believed to arise from UV-radiation induced breakdown into phaecophytin. A comparison of the Raman spectra of young (green) and old (red) algae is effected and possible bio-markers for spectral detection on extraterrestrial icy moons and planets are identified.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2004 Cambridge University Press

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