Molecular assessment of UVC radiation-induced DNA damage repair in the stromatolitic halophilic archaeon, Halococcus hamelinensis

S. Leuko*, B. A. Neilan, B. P. Burns, M. R. Walter, L. J. Rothschild

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The halophilic archaeon Halococcus hamelinensis was isolated from living stromatolites in Shark Bay, Western Australia, that are known to be exposed to extreme conditions of salinity, desiccation, and UV radiation. Modern stromatolites are considered analogues of very early life on Earth and thus inhabitants of modern stromatolites, and Hcc. hamelinensis in particular, are excellent candidates to examine responses to high UV radiation. This organism was exposed to high dosages (up to 500 J/m2) of standard germicidal UVC (254 nm) radiation and overall responses such as survival, thymine-thymine cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation, and DNA repair have been assessed. Results show that Hcc. hamelinensis is able to survive high UVC radiation dosages and that intact cells give an increased level of DNA protection over purified DNA. The organism was screened for the bacterial-like nucleotide excision repair (NER) genes uvrA, uvrB, uvrC, as well as for the photolyase phr2 gene. All four genes were discovered and changes in the expression levels of those genes during repair in either light or dark were investigated by means of quantitative Real-Time (qRT) PCR. The data obtained and presented in this study show that the uvrA, uvrB, and uvrC genes were up-regulated during both repair conditions. The photolyase phr2 was not induced during dark repair, yet showed a 20-fold increase during repair in light conditions. The data presented is the first molecular study of different repair mechanisms in the genus Halococcus following exposure to high UVC radiation levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrobiology
  • DNA damage
  • Halophilic archaea
  • Repair mechanisms
  • UVC radiation


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