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Plant Physiol. 1996 Sep;112(1):161-170.

Solar Ultraviolet-B Radiation Affects Seedling Emergence, DNA Integrity, Plant Morphology, Growth Rate, and Attractiveness to Herbivore Insects in Datura ferox.

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Ifeva, Departamento de Ecologia, Facultad de Agronomia, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Avenida San Martin 4453, (1417) Buenos Aires, Argentina (C.L.B., A.L.S., M.J.Y.).


To study functional relationships between the effects of solar ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B) on different aspects of the physiology of a wild plant, we carried out exclusion experiments in the field with the summer annual Datura ferox L. Solar UV-B incident over Buenos Aires reduced daytime seedling emergence, inhibited stem elongation and leaf expansion, and tended to reduce biomass accumulation during early growth. However, UV-B had no effect on calculated net assimilation rate. Using a monoclonal antibody specific to the cyclobutane-pyrimidine dimer (CPD), we found that plants receiving full sunlight had more CPDs per unit of DNA than plants shielded from solar UV-B, but the positive correlation between UV-B and CPD burden tended to level off at high (near solar) UV-B levels. At our field site, Datura plants were consumed by leaf beetles (Coleoptera), and the proportion of plants attacked by insects declined with the amount of UV-B received during growth. Field experiments showed that plant exposure to solar UV-B reduced the likelihood of leaf beetle attack by one-half. Our results highlight the complexities associated with scaling plant responses to solar UV-B, because they show: (a) a lack of correspondence between UV-B effects on net assimilation rate and whole-plant growth rate, (b) nonlinear UV-B dose-response curves, and (c) UV-B effects of plant attractiveness to natural herbivores.

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