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The effect of enhanced ultraviolet-B radiation on the photosynthetic metabolism of terrestrial Antarctic plants

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:11 authored by Andrew E. Smith
The potential effect of increased UV-B radiation on photosynthetic activity and related processes in a range of terrestrial Antarctic plant species was investigated; from a chlorophyte alga to a vascular plant (Deschampsia antartica). The relative contribution of the UV-B waveband to photosystem II (PSII) damage was used to construct an action spectrum for those species found to be sensitive to UV-B exposure. Investigation involved non-invasive measurements of photosynthesis using chlorophyll-a fluorescence emission coupled with polarographic measurement of oxygen and infra-red gas analysis of carbon dioxide. Compounds associated with UV-B protection were extracted, and analysed using high performance liquid chromatography. Different species exhibited differing sensitivity to UV-B exposure. Reduction in the efficiency of the light independent stage of photosynthesis and decrease in leaf length were found in D. antarctica. A decline in the potential activity of PSII (dark-adapted chlorophyll-a fluorescence) was found in some cryptogams, but no concurrent decrease in gas exchange parameters. Shorter wavelengths of UV-B were shown to be more effective in depression of PSII efficiency. The first action spectrum for terrestrial Antarctic plants would predict a higher weighted UV-B exposure under ambient ozone, but would expect less damage under stratospheric ozone depletion than the commonly used plant action spectrum. Some of the plants investigated contained increased amounts of UV absorbing flavonoids following UV-B exposure. The morphological changes found in D. antarctica should lower photosynthetic productivity, but are dependent on developmental stage. The action spectrum produced herein would still forecast increased damage to PSII due to early spring ozone depletion, but not as great as previously predicted. Moreover, current levels of UV-B radiation may be more damaging to some species than previously thought based on other plant action spectra.



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