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Tree Physiol. 1998 Jan;18(1):53-58.

Accumulation of flavonoids and related compounds in birch induced by UV-B irradiance.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Joensuu, P.O. Box 111, SF-80101 Joensuu, Finland.


A growth chamber experiment was conducted to examine the effects of UV-B exposure (4.9 kJ m(-2) day(-1) of biologically effective UV-B, 280-320 nm) on shoot growth and secondary metabolite production in Betula pendula (Roth) and B. resinifera (Britt.) seedlings originating from environments in Finland, Germany and Alaska differing in solar UV-B radiation and climate. Neither shoot growth nor the composition of secondary metabolites was affected by UV-B irradiance, but the treatment induced significant changes in the amounts of individual secondary metabolites in leaves. Leaves of seedlings exposed to UV-B radiation contained higher concentrations of several flavonoids, condensed tannins and some hydroxycinnamic acids than leaves of control seedlings that received no UV-B radiation. At the population level, there was considerable variation in secondary metabolite responses to UV-B radiation: among populations, the induced response was most prominent in Alaskan populations, which were adapted to the lowest ambient UV-B radiation environment. I conclude that solar UV-B radiation plays an important role in the formation of secondary chemical characteristics in birch trees.

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