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Environ Pollut. 2000 Jun;108(3):343-55.

Stratospheric ozone depletion, UV-B radiation and crop disease.

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  • 1Biology Department, Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK.


Ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B: 290-315 nm) is expected to increase as the result of stratospheric ozone depletion. Within the environmental range, UV-B effects on host plants appear to be largely a function of photomorphogenic responses, while effects on fungal pathogens may include both photomorphogenesis and damage. The effects of increased UV-B on plant-pathogen interactions has been studied in only a few pathosystems, and have used a wide range of techniques, making generalisations difficult. Increased UV-B after inoculation tends to reduce disease, perhaps due to direct damage to the pathogen, although responses vary markedly between and within pathogen species. Using Septoria tritici infection of wheat as a model system, it is suggested that even in a species that is inherently sensitive to UV-B, the effects of ozone depletion in the field are likely to be small compared with the effects of variation in UV-B due to season and varying cloud. Increased UV-B before inoculation causes a range of effects in different systems, but an increase in subsequent disease is a common response, perhaps due to changes in host surface properties or chemical composition. Although it seems unlikely that most crop diseases will be greatly affected by stratospheric ozone depletion within the limits currently expected, the lack of a detailed understanding of the mechanisms by which UV-B influences plant-pathogen interactions in most pathosystems is a significant limit to such predictions.


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