Plant Responses to UV‐B Radiation

Abstract

Research on plant UV‐B responses commenced in earnest following discovery of stratospheric ozone layer depletion in the 1970s. Initial research focussed mostly on UV stress, including damage to genetic material (DNA, RNA) and negative impacts on photosynthesis and growth. A second phase of research centred on UV‐B acclimation including photorepair, UV‐screening and upregulation of antioxidant defences, and led to the conclusion that plants are well protected from potentially harmful effects of UV‐B radiation. The identification of a dedicated UV‐B photoreceptor (UVR8), and components of its signalling pathway, revealed that UV‐B sensing has an important regulatory role in UV‐protection. An emerging third phase of plant UV‐B biology centres on a much broader role of UV‐B radiation as an environmental regulator. UV‐B modulates, amongst others, thermomorphogenesis, shade‐avoidance, the circadian clock and resistance to drought. Thus, it appears that UV‐B plays a comprehensive role in controlling growth and development of plants.

Key Concepts

  • Realistic UV‐B exposure conditions are essential for assessing environmentally relevant UV‐B impacts.
  • UV‐B is a potential stressor, however, negative impacts of UV‐B on the growth of plants are small under realistic UV‐B exposure conditions.
  • The UV‐B photoreceptor UVR8 is used by plants to sense exposure to UV‐B radiation.
  • Interactions between UVR8 and other photoreceptor signalling pathways result in fine‐regulation of plant responses.
  • UVR8 plays a role in modulation of clock entrainment, chloroplast development, thermomorphogenesis, accumulation of specific metabolites, and drought‐protection.
  • UV‐B modulates plant responses to climate change parameters such as heat, drought and CO2.

Keywords: ultraviolet‐B; UV‐B; plant stress; DNA‐dimer; UVR8; photoreceptor; UV‐screening pigment; flavonoid; acclimation; morphology

Figure 1. (a) Frames with UV‐B emitting tubes suspended above vegetation in Abisko, northern Sweden. Supplemental UV irradiance is controlled to yield a fixed percentage increase above ambient UV. Source: Figure courtesy of Lars Olof Björn. (b) Inside solar simulator at the Helmholtz Centrum München (Neuherberg, Germany), which allows accurate imitation of the full solar spectrum with different degrees of ozone layer depletion. Source: Figure courtesy of Andreas Albert.
Figure 2. Diagram showing damaging effects of UV radiation on cellular targets, as well as protection and repair mechanisms. UVR, ultraviolet radiation; DSB, double‐strand DNA breaks; EPS, exopolysaccharide; SOD, superoxide dismutase; CAT, catalase; MAA, mycosporine‐like amino acids; PCD, programmed cell death. Source: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2015/PP/C4PP90035A#!divAbstract/. Licensed under CC by 3.0.
Figure 3. Diagram showing the dynamic changes in metabolite concentrations that can occur during UV‐B acclimation. Levels of ascorbate and glutathione (GSH) decrease following exposure to acute UV‐B stress but following the initial decrease, increase during UV‐acclimation. Polyamines transiently accumulate during initial UV acclimation, while levels of flavonoids increase gradually, typically over several days. Reproduced with permission from Jansen et al. . © Elsevier.
Figure 4. UV‐B‐induced morphological responses in Arabidopsis thaliana LER, and the corresponding uvr8‐1 mutant. UV‐B exposure leads to a stocky phenotype with shorter petioles. As such, UV‐B antagonises the far‐red light‐induced elongation response, and this occurs in a UVR8 dependent manner. Reproduced from Hayes et al. .
Figure 5. UVR8 mediated signalling involves monomerisation and interactions with COP1 and HY5/HYH. The triggered signalling cascade can impact on processes as diverse as shade avoidance, epinasty, phototropism and thermomorphogenesis. Reproduced with permission from Hayes et al. © John Wiley and Sons.
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Jansen, Marcel AK, and Urban, Otmar(May 2019) Plant Responses to UV‐B Radiation. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0027966]