BACKGROUND: The effects of short-term ultraviolet B (UV-B) irradiation on sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L. cv. Cinnamon) plants at the 3–4 leaf pair and flowering stages were examined in controlled environment growth chambers. Plants were exposed to 0 (reference), 2 and 4 kJ UV-B m−2 day−1 over 7 days.
RESULTS: Exposure of basil plants to supplementary UV-B light resulted in increased assimilating leaf area, fresh biomass and dry biomass. Stimulation of physiological functions in young basil plants under either applied UV-B dose resulted in increased total chlorophyll content but no marked variation in carotenoid content. At the flowering stage the chlorophyll and carotenoid contents of basil were affected by supplementary UV-B radiation, decreasing with enhanced UV-B exposure. Both total antioxidant activity (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl free radical assay) and total phenolic compound content were increased by UV-B light supplementation. Young and mature basil plants differed in their ascorbic acid content, which was dependent on UV-B dose and plant age. UV-B radiation resulted in decreased nitrate content in young basil plants (3–4 leaf pair stage).
CONCLUSION: These results indicate that the application of short-exposure UV-B radiation beneficially influenced both growth parameters and biochemical constituents in young and mature basil plants. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry