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Directed exospermia: I. Biological modes of resistance to UV light are implied through absorption spectroscopy of DNA and potential UV screens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2007

Andreja Zalar
Affiliation:
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Versailles 78026, France e-mail: tepfer@versailles.inra.fr
David Tepfer
Affiliation:
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Versailles 78026, France e-mail: tepfer@versailles.inra.fr
Søren V. Hoffmann
Affiliation:
Institute for Storage Ring Facilities, University of Aarhus, Aarhus 8000, Denmark
John M. Kenney
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858-4353, USA
Sydney Leach
Affiliation:
LERMA, UMR 8112-CNRS, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, 92195 Meudon, France

Abstract

Panspermia, the dissemination of life through space, would require resistance to the conditions found in space, including UV light. All known life forms depend on DNA to store information. In an effort to understand the liabilities of DNA to UV light and modes of DNA protection in terrestrial life forms, we established UV–VUV (125–340 nm) absorption spectra for dry DNA and its polymerized components and mononucleotides, as well as for a selection of potential UV screens ubiquitous in all organisms, including proteins, selected amino acids and amines (polyamines and tyramine). Montmorillonite clay was included as a potential abiotic UV screen. Among the potential screens tested, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) appeared to be particularly attractive, because its UV absorption spectrum was similar to that of DNA. We suggest that the use of ATP in UV protection could have pre-dated its current role in energy transfer. Spectroscopy also showed that UV absorption varied according to nucleotide content, suggesting that base pair usage could be a factor in adaptation to given UV environments and the availability of UV screens.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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