The ecosystems of Tierra del Fuego (in southern Patagonia, Argentina) are seasonally exposed to elevated levels of ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B: 280-315 nm), due to the passage of the 'ozone hole' over this region. In the experiments reported in this article the effects of solar UV-B and UV-A (315-400 nm) on two UV-B defence-related processes: the accumulation of protective UV-absorbing compounds and DNA repair, were tested. It was found that the accumulation of UV-absorbing sunscreens in Gunnera magellanica leaves was not affected by plant exposure to ambient UV radiation. Photorepair was the predominant mechanism of cyclobutane-pyrimidine dimer (CPD) removal in G. magellanica. Plants exposed to solar UV had higher CPD repair capacity under optimal conditions of temperature (25 °C) than plants grown under attenuated UV. There was no measurable repair at 8 °C. The rates of CPD repair in G. magellanica plants were modest in comparison with other species and, under equivalent conditions, were about 50% lower than the repair rates of Arabidopsis thaliana (Ler ecotype). Collectively our results suggest that the susceptibility of G. magellanica plants to current ambient levels of solar UV-B in southern Patagonia may be related to a low DNA repair capacity.
- Cyclobutane-pyrimidine dimer photorepair
- Ozone depletion
- UV-absorbing compounds
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science