Effects of increased solar ultraviolet-radiation on terrestrial plants

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Abstract

Physiological and developmental processes of plants are affected by UV-B radiation, even by the amount of UV-B in present-day sunlight. Plants also have several mechanisms to ameliorate or repair these effects and may acclimate to a certain extent to increased levels of UV-B. Nevertheless, plant growth can be directly affected by UV-B radiation. Response to UV-B also varies considerably among species and also cultivars of the same species. In agriculture, this may necessitate using more UV-B-tolerant cultivars and breeding new ones. In forests and grasslands, this will likely result in changes in species composition; therefore there are implications for the biodiversity in different ecosystems. Indirect changes caused by UV-B-such as changes in plant form, biomass allocation to parts of the plant, timing of developmental phases and secondary metabolism-may be equally, or sometimes more important than damaging effects of UV-B. These changes can have important implications for plant competitive balance, herbivory, plant pathogens, and biogeochemical cycles. These ecosystem-level effects can be anticipated, but not easily predicted or evaluated. Research at the ecosystem level for solar UV-B is barely beginning. Other factors, including those involved in climate change such as increasing CO2, also interact with UV-B. Such reactions are not easily predicted, but are of obvious importance in both agriculture and in nonagricultural ecosystems

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  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-173
JournalAmbio
Volume24
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes