College of Arts and Sciences

Microbial Sunscreens: Obstacles and Opportunities

First Mondays Series

Tanya Soule, Biology

Tanya Soule, biologyMarch 3, 2014
Noon - 1:15 p.m.
Science Building, Room 168

Passive protection from ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is generally gained by using sunscreens or sun-blocking agents. While the sunscreen products we are most familiar with are synthetically derived, microorganisms have been producing their own sunscreens in response to UVR for millions of years.  The most diverse sunscreen producers are the cyanobacteria, which are photosynthetic bacteria that are often exposed to high levels of UVR as they harvest solar energy for photosynthesis. Cyanobacterial sunscreens include scytonemin and the mycosporine-like amino acids. The use of these natural sunscreens will be compared to the currently available synthetic varieties. Opportunities for these sunscreens will be discussed with the consideration of obstacles towards commercial development.