Changes in growth and pigment concentrations with leaf age in pea under modulated UV-B radiation field treatments

Thomas Day, B. W. Howells, C. T. Ruhland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


We assessed whether growth of garden pea (Pisum sativum mutant Argenteum) was reduced under ecologically relevant enhancements of ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B, 280-320 nm) by employing modulated field lampbanks which simulated 0,16 or 24% ozone depletion. In addition, we determined whether enhanced UV-B altered the concentration and distribution of chlorophyll and UV-B-absorbing compounds in leaves, and whether this was dependent on leaf age. There were no significant UV-B effects on the four whole-plant parameters we examined (height, aboveground biomass, total leaflet area or average leaflet area). Of the 12 leaf-level parameters we examined, UV-B had a significant effect (P<0.05) on only one parameter: the ratio of UV-B-absorbing compounds to chlorophyll, which was greatest at the highest UV-B level. Total chlorophyll concentrations tended to be lower under enhanced UV-B (P=0.11), while the proportion of UV-B-absorbing compounds in the adaxial epidermis tended to be higher (P=0.11). Total leaf concentrations of UV-B-absorbing compounds were unaffected by UV-B level. Cooler, suboptimal growing conditions during this late summer/early autumn experiment may have masked some potential UV-B effects. In contrast to the UV-B effects, we found strong leaf-age effects on nearly all parameters that we assessed. On an area basis, concentrations of total chlorophyll and UV-B-absorbing compounds increased with leaf age, while chlorophyll a/b ratios decreased. One of the few parameters unaffected by leaf age was the ratio of UV-B-absorbing compounds to total chlorophyll, which remained constant within a given UV-B treatment Pea was much less sensitive to enhanced UV-B than in previous growth-chamber and greenhouse studies, and in nearly all cases UV-B treatment effects were overshadowed by leaf-age effects. In view of the large effect leaf age had on concentrations of UV-B-absorbing compounds, as well as their distribution within leaves, researchers may need to consider leaf age in UV-B experimental designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-108
Number of pages8
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Chlorophyll
  • Epidermis
  • Flavonoids
  • Pisum sativum
  • Stratospheric ozone
  • Ultraviolet-B

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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