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Variation in UV-B sensitivity in plants from a 3,000-m elevational gradient in Hawaii

Variation in UV-B sensitivity in plants from a 3,000-m elevational gradient in Hawaii

American journal of botany 79(7): 737-743

Interest in the potential consequences of stratospheric ozone depletion has led to numerous studies that have evaluated the effects of ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation on plant growth and productivity. However, few studies have been conducted on plants from natural ecosystems. Differences in solar UV-B radiation along latitudinal or elevational gradients may have resulted in plants from diverse habitats developing contrasting sensitivities to UV-B radiation. In this study, seeds were collected along a 3,000-m elevational gradient in Hawaii and then germinated and grown in an unshaded greenhouse with either no UV-B radiation or one of two daily UV-B irradiances, 15.5 or 23.1 kJ m-2. Seedlings were grown for 12 weeks and harvested to determine whether UV-B radiation altered plant biomass. The responses to UV-B radiation varied among species, but, in general, sensitivity to UV-B radiation was reduced as the elevation of seed collection increased. Of the 33 species tested, UV-B radiation significantly reduced plant height in 14 species and biomass in eight species. Biomass increased in four species grown under UV-B radiation. This study provides clear evidence that natural plant populations exhibit wide variation in UV-B radiation sensitivity and that this variation is related to the natural (ambient) UV-B radiation environment in which these plants grow.

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Accession: 002542521

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DOI: 10.2307/2444938

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