Ultraviolet-B radiation screening effectiveness of reproductive organs in Hesperis matronalis

Thomas Day, S. M. Demchik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We assessed the ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B; 280-320 nm) screening effectiveness of reproductive organs (sepals, petals and ovaries) of naturally growing Hesperis matronalis L. (dame's rocket, Brassicaceae) plants by measuring surface reflectance, epidermal and whole-organ transmittance and depth of penetration of 300 nm UV-B. We also measured the concentration of UV-B absorbing compounds in these organs (as well as pollen; to provide explanations for differences in their UV-B screening abilities. Surface reflectance of UV-B was less than 4% and was similar in sepals, petals and sides of ovaries. Ultraviolet-B penetrated (assessed as 1% of incident) an average of 275 μm and 384 μm into sepals and petals, respectively. In contrast, UV-B penetrated only 140 μm into the side of ovaries (measured mid-way between the base of the ovary and the stigma) and 108 μm into the stigma toward the ovary. Thus, UV-B was attenuated well before reaching the ovules which were over 500 μm within the sides of the ovaries and over 4000 μm below the stigma surface. This relatively effective attenuation of UV-B by the ovary was probably due to high concentrations of UV-B absorbing compounds which averaged more than twice those found in sepals and petals on a silhouette-area basis. Although their small size prevented us from measuring UV-B penetration, pollen grains also contained very high concentrations of UV-B absorbing compounds, averaging about 20 times those of sepals and petals on a silhouette-area basis. While this suggests that pollen of H. matronalis is effective at screening UV-B, the reported UV-B sensitivity of pollen suggests these high concentrations of absorbing compounds may not be completely effective in protecting the male gametes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-454
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • Fiber optic
  • flavonoid
  • ovary
  • ozone depletion
  • petal
  • pollen
  • reflectance
  • sepal
  • stigma
  • transmittance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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