The increase in ultraviolet-B (UV-B; 0.290-0.320 mu]m) radiation received by plants due to stratospheric ozone depletion heightens the importance of understanding UV-B tolerance. Photosynthetic tissue is believed to be protected from UV-B radiation by UV-B-absorbing compounds (e.g. flavonoids). Although synthesis of flavonoids is induced by UV-B radiation, its protective role on photosynthetic pigments has not been clearly demonstrated. This results in part from the design of UV-B experiments in which experimental UV-A irradiance has not been carefully controlled, since blue/UV-A radiation is involved in the biosynthesis of the photosynthetic pigments. The relationship of flavonoids to photosynthetic performance, photosynthetic pigments, and growth measures was examined in an experiment where UV-A control groups were included at two biologically effective daily UV-B irradiances, 14.1 and 10.7 kJ m-2. Normal, chlorophyll-deficient, and flavonoid-deficient pigment isolines of two soybean (Glycine max) cultivars that produced different flavonol glycosides (Harosoy produced kaempferol, Clark produced quercetin and kaempferol) were examined. Plants with higher levels of total flavonoids, not specific flavonol glycosides, were more UV-B tolerant as determined by growth, pigment, and gas-exchange variables. Regression analyses indicated no direct relationship between photosynthesis and leaf levels of UV-B-absorbing compounds. UV-B radiation increased photosynthetic pigment content, along with UV-B-absorbing compounds, but only the former (especially carotenoids) was related to total biomass (r2 = 0.61, linear) and to photosynthetic efficiency (negative, exponential relationship, r2 = 0.82). A reduction in photosynthesis was associated primarily with a stomatal limitation rather than photosystem II damage. This study suggests that both carotenoids and flavonoids may be involved in plant UV-B photoprotection, but only carotenoids are directly linked to photoprotection of photosynthetic function. These results additionally show the importance of UV-A control in UV-B experiments conducted using artificial lamps and filters.
Grape (Vitis viniferacvSilvaner) vine plants were cultivated under shaded conditions in the absence of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in a greenhouse, and subsequently placed outdoors under three different light regimes for 7 d. Different light regimes were produced by filters transmitting natural radiation, or screening out the UV-B (280–315 nm), or screening out the UV-A (315–400 nm) and the UV-B spectral range. During exposure, synthesis of UV-screening phenolics in leaves was quantified using HPLC: All treatments increased concentrations of hydroxycinnamic acids but the rise was highest, reaching 230% of the initial value, when UV radiation was absent. In contrast, UV-B radiation specifically increased flavonoid concentrations resulting in more than a 10-fold increase. Transmittance in the UV of all extracted phenolics was lower than epidermal UV transmittance determined fluorimetrically, and the two parameters were curvilinearly related. It is suggested that curvilinearity results from different absorption properties of the homogeneously dissolved phenolics in extracts and of the non-homogeneous distribution of phenolics in the epidermis. UV-B-dependent inhibition of maximum photochemical yield of photosystem II (PSII), measured as variable fluorescence of dark-adapted leaves, recovered in parallel to the buildup of epidermal screening for UV-B radiation, suggesting that PSII is protected against UV-B damage by epidermal screening. However, UV-B inhibition of CO2assimilation rates was not diminished by efficient UV-B screening. We propose that protection of UV-B inactivation of PSII is observed because preceding damage is efficiently repaired while those factors determining UV-B inhibition of CO2assimilation recover more slowly.
The effects of solar ultraviolet (UV)-B and UV-A radiation on the potential efficiency of photosystem II (PSII) in leaves of tropical plants were investigated in Panama (9°N). Shade-grown tree seedlings or detached sun leaves from the outer crown of mature trees were exposed for short periods (up to 75 min) to direct sunlight filtered through plastic or glass filters that absorbed either UV-B or UV-A+B radiation, or transmitted the complete solar spectrum. Persistent changes in potential PSII efficiency were monitored by means of the dark-adapted ratio of variable to maximum chlorophyllafluorescence. In leaves of shade-grown tree seedlings, exposure to the complete solar spectrum resulted in a strong decrease in potential PSII efficiency, probably involving protein damage. A substantially smaller decline in the dark-adapted ratio of variable to maximum chlorophyllafluorescence was observed when UV-B irradiation was excluded. The loss in PSII efficiency was further reduced by excluding both UV-B and UV-A light. The photoinactivation of PSII was reversible under shade conditions, but restoration of nearly full activity required at least 10 d. Repeated exposure to direct sunlight induced an increase in the pool size of xanthophyll cycle pigments and in the content of UV-absorbing vacuolar compounds. In sun leaves of mature trees, which contained high levels of UV-absorbing compounds, effects of UV-B on PSII efficiency were observed in several cases and varied with developmental age and acclimation state of the leaves. The results show that natural UV-B and UV-A radiation in the tropics may significantly contribute to photoinhibition of PSII during sun exposure in situ, particularly in shade leaves exposed to full sunlight.
We assessed the influence of springtime solar UV-B radiation that was naturally enhanced during several days due to ozone depletion on biomass production and photosynthesis of vascular plants along the Antarctic Peninsula. Naturally growing plants ofColobanthus quitensis(Kunth) Bartl. andDeschampsia antarcticaDesv. were potted and grown under filters that absorbed or transmitted most solar UV-B. Plants exposed to solar UV-B from mid-October to early January produced 11% to 22% less total, as well as above ground biomass, and 24% to 31% less total leaf area. These growth reductions did not appear to be associated with reductions in photosynthesis per se: Although rates of photosynthetic O2evolution were reduced on a chlorophyll and a dry-mass basis, on a leaf area basis they were not affected by UV-B exposure. Leaves on plants exposed to UV-B were denser, probably thicker, and had higher concentrations of photosynthetic and UV-B absorbing pigments. We suspect that the development of thicker leaves containing more photosynthetic and screening pigments allowed these plants to maintain their photosynthetic rates per unit leaf area. Exposure to UV-B led to reductions in quantum yield of photosystem II, based on fluorescence measurements of adaxial leaf surfaces, and we suspect that UV-B impaired photosynthesis in the upper mesophyll of leaves. Because the ratio of variable to maximal fluorescence, as well as the initial slope of the photosynthetic light response, were unaffected by UV-B exposure, we suggest that impairments in photosynthesis in the upper mesophyll were associated with light-independent enzymatic, rather than photosystem II, limitations.
Diverse flavonoid compounds are widely distributed in angiosperm families. Flavonoids absorb radiation in the ultraviolet (UV) region of the spectrum, and it has been proposed that these compounds function as UV filters. We demonstrate that the DNA in Zea mays plants that contain flavonoids (primarily anthocyanins) is protected from the induction of damage caused by UV radiation relative to the DNA in plants that are genetically deficient in these compounds. DNA damage was measured with a sensitive and simple assay using individual monoclonal antibodies, one specific for cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer damage and the other specific for pyrimidine(6,4)pyrimidone damage.