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Melanism protects alpine zooplankton from DNA damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.

Authors
  • Ulbing, Cynthia K S1
  • Muuse, Julia M1
  • Miner, Brooks E1
  • 1 Department of Biology, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences
Publisher
The Royal Society
Publication Date
Nov 06, 2019
Volume
286
Issue
1914
Pages
20192075–20192075
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2075
PMID: 31690236
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Melanism is widely observed among animals, and is adaptive in various contexts for its thermoregulatory, camouflaging, mate-attraction or photoprotective properties. Many organisms exposed to ultraviolet radiation show increased fitness resulting from melanin pigmentation; this has been assumed to result in part from reduced UV-induced damage to DNA. However, to effectively test the hypothesis that melanin pigmentation reduces UV-induced DNA damage requires quantification of UV-specific DNA damage lesions following UV exposure under controlled conditions using individuals that vary in pigmentation intensity. We accomplished this using alpine genotypes of the freshwater microcrustacean Daphnia melanica, for which we quantified cyclobutane pyrimide dimers in DNA, a damage structure that can only be generated by UV exposure. For genotypes with carapace melanin pigmentation, we found that individuals with greater melanin content sustained lower levels of UV-induced DNA damage. Individuals with more melanin were also more likely to survive exposure to ecologically relevant levels of UV-B radiation. Parallel experiments with conspecific genotypes that lack carapace melanin pigmentation provide additional support for our conclusion that melanism protects individuals from UV-induced DNA damage. Finally, within-genotype comparisons with asexually produced clonal siblings demonstrate that melanin content influences DNA damage even among genetically identical individuals raised in the same environment.

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