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Phytochemistry. 2003 Sep;64(1):243-55.

Contribution of phenolic compounds to the UV-B screening capacity of developing barley primary leaves in relation to DNA damage and repair under elevated UV-B levels.

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  • 1Universität zu Köln, Botanisches Institut, Gyrhofstrasse 15, D-50931 Cologne, Germany.


Epidermally located UV-absorbing hydroxycinnamic acid conjugates and flavonoid glycosides are known to be efficient UV-B protectants in higher plants, although important biological molecules are not always fully protected. However, repair mechanisms also exist, such as repair of damaged DNA by photolyases. To distinguish between the relative importance of the phenolic compounds and of DNA repair, developing primary leaves of two barley lines, mutant ant 30-310, deficient in flavonoids, and its parent line Ca 33787, were grown under relatively high visible light (650-700 micromol m(-2) s(-1) max for 6 h in a 13 h photoperiod) and supplemented with (+ UV-B) or without (-UV-B) 12 kJ m(-2) UV-B(BE) for 6 h daily. UV-B screening capacity of the leaf phenolics was determined at 315 nm during leaf development and compared with thymine dimers (TD) accumulation, as an indicator of UV-B-induced DNA damage and potential subsequent repair. The degree of damage was related to the phenolic contents of the leaves. UV-B screening capacity was increased ca. 4-fold in the parent line (+ UV-B), mainly due to UV-induced flavonoid (saponarin, lutonarin) accumulation in epidermal and subepidermal mesophyll tissue, relative to the flavonoid-deficient mutant. Nevertheless, in the parent line an 8-fold increase in TD levels occurred over the growth period of 18 days, whereas the mutant accumulated additional DNA damage, with 6- to 9-fold higher TD amounts. Surprisingly, under the high UV-B irradiation, growth and development of the primary leaves in both lines were only slightly reduced.

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