Saturday, 23 May 2015

Amazing Ability: Zebrafish Make Their Own Sunscreen

A female zebrafish. Image courtesy of Azul, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

It’s a great time to believe in the Bible. Some of the amazing skills found in the animal kingdom that we get to know about almost daily point clearly to a very intelligent – and benevolent – author of all life.

A recent discovery features the zebrafish’s ability to make its own sunscreen.

For some time, researchers had known that bacteria, fungi and algae could produce sunscreen to protect them from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. But that zebrafish could also do so was a big surprise.

According to a report in eLife:

It was thought for many years that the ability to synthesize small-molecule sunscreens was limited to microbes, and that higher marine organisms obtained these compounds exclusively from their diet. Now, in eLife, Taifo Mahmud and co-workers at Oregon State University—including Andrew Osborn, Khaled Almabruk and Garrett Holzwarth as joint first authors—show that zebrafish can synthesize gadusol (Osborn et al., 2015). They also present evidence that the pathway used by zebrafish to make gadusol is distinct from the pathway used by microorganisms to synthesize MAAs.”

Obviously, zebrafish have genes that can make gadusol.

The take away message from this discovery is that even in a fallen world, God, who knows everything, is interested in the welfare of not only humans but also of animals.


Brotherton, Carolyn A. and Emily P Balskus. 2015. Biochemistry: Shedding light on sunscreen biosynthesis in zebrafish. eLife (12 May).