Stress proteins and auxiliary anti-stress compounds in intertidal macroalgae
Intertidal macroalgae are exposed to strong variation in the physical environment and thus, diverse anti-stress mechanisms are displayed by these organisms. Stress proteins (also called heat shock proteins, HSPs) have been invoked as potential protective mechanism, especially during stressful action of temperature and solar radiation. Therefore, macroalgae have not normally been used as model organisms in studies of these molecules. The present study compiles the existing information from intertidal species in the context of major factors that have been reported to induce them, e.g. temperature, enhanced solar radiation, contaminants, etc. Additionally, in order to address the question whether the expression of these proteins operates in intertidal macroalgae complementarily with other protective mechanisms, a case study of induction of HSPs after exposure to UV radiation and high temperature in two upper littoral species, Ulva sp. and Porphyra columbina, from southern Chile is presented. In parallel, two well-known responses to stress, photoinhibition of photochemical reactions (Fv/Fm) and ROS scavenging were measured. The results indicated that, although stress proteins were detected in a time span between 3 and 24 h, the responses were not correlated with photochemical and antioxidative response. Overall, the study outlines a potential role of stress proteins in ecophysiological responses developed to cope mainly with high temperature and UV radiation. However, other rapid metabolic adjustments (e.g. high thermo-tolerance of photosynthesis and efficient ROS scavenging), together with other biomolecules (mycosporines, phenols, polyamines, etc.) and morpho-functional adaptations to the intertidal life (e.g. small size, high area/volume ratio) are also important.