Non-Invasive Measurements of Leaf Epidermal Transmittance of UV Radiation Using Chlorophyll Fluorescence: Field and Laboratory Studies

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Physiologia Plantarum







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Ratios of chlorophyll fluorescence induced by ultraviolet (UV) and bluegreen (BG) radiation [F(UV)/F(BG)] were determined with a Xe-PAM fluorometer to test the utility of this technique as a means of non-intrusively assessing changes in the pigmentation and optical properties of leaves exposed to varying UV exposures under laboratory and field conditions. For plants of Vicia faba and Brassica campestris, grown under controlled-environmental conditions, F(UV-B)/F(BG) was negatively correlated with whole-leaf UV-B-absorbing pigment concentrations. Fluorescence ratios of V. faba were similar to, and positively correlated with (r2=0.77 [UV-B]; 0.85 [UV-A]), direct measurements of epidermal transmittance made with an integrating sphere. Leaves of 2 of 4 cultivars of field-grown Glycine max exposed to near-ambient solar UV-B at a mid-latitude site (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 34° S) showed significantly lower abaxial F(UV-B)/F(BG) values (i.e., lower UV-B epidermal transmittance) than those exposed to attenuated UV-B, but solar UV-B reduction had a minimal effect on F(UV-B)/F(BG) in plants growing at a high-latitude site (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, 55° S). Similarly, the exotic Taraxacum officinale did not show significant changes in F(UV-B)/F(BG) when exposed to very high supplemental UV-B (biologically effective UV-B=14–15 kJ m−2 day−1) in the field in Tierra del Fuego, whereas a native species, Gunnera magellanica, showed significant increases in F(UV-B)/F(BG) relative to those receiving ambient UV-B. These anomalous fluorescence changes were associated with increases in BG-absorbing pigments (anthocyanins), but not UV-B-absorbing pigments. These results indicate that non-invasive estimates of epidermal transmittance of UV radiation using chlorophyll fluorescence can detect changes in pigmentation and leaf optical properties induced by UV-B radiation under both field and laboratory conditions. However, this technique may be of limited utility in cold environments where UV and low temperatures can stimulate the production of BG-absorbing pigments that interfere with these indirect measurements of UV-transmittance.


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