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J Photochem Photobiol B. 2002 Feb;66(1):21-9.

Flavonoid concentrations in three grass species and a sedge grown in the field and under controlled environment conditions in response to enhanced UV-B radiation.

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  • 1Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Faculty of Biology, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


An investigation was carried out to find whether enhanced levels of UV-B radiation induce increased concentrations of flavonoids in the leaves of the grass species Deschampsia antarctica, Deschampsia borealis and Calamagrostis epigeios and the sedge Carex arenaria. Whether the enhanced levels of UV-B influenced the proportions of the various flavonoids in the leaves was also studied. Increased flavonoid concentrations would improve the UV-B shielding of UV-B susceptible tissues. Using HPLC analysis the flavonoids orientin and luteolin were identified in D. antarctica, orientin in D. borealis and tricin in C. arenaria. Neither flavonoid concentrations nor the proportion of the various flavonoids in climate room grown D. antarctica and D. borealis plants differed between individuals grown under 0, ambient or elevated UV-B levels. After 12 weeks of growth biomass production and shoot-to-root ratios of D. antarctica were not affected by elevated UV-B radiation. Greenhouse grown C. epigeios plants contained higher concentrations and different proportions of flavonoids grown under elevated levels of UV-B than when grown under ambient or 0 UV-B. In C. epigeios plants grown in their natural habitat in the field under ambient or elevated levels of UV-B, flavonoid concentrations and proportions were the same in plants from both treatments. In the leaves of the sedge C. arenaria grown in a greenhouse flavonoid concentrations and proportions were not affected by UV-B radiation. Leaves were harvested four times during the growing season from C. arenaria plants grown in their natural habitat in the field under ambient or elevated levels of UV-B. Leaves harvested in January contained higher concentrations of flavonoids when grown under elevated UV-B than when grown under ambient UV-B radiation. In leaves harvested in May, September and December flavonoid concentrations were the same in plants grown under ambient or elevated UV-B. The proportion of the different flavonoids was the same for both treatments in all months. These results indicate that constitutive levels of flavonoids in these grass and sedge species are adequately high to protect them against ambient and elevated levels of solar UV-B radiation.

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