Ultraviolet-B radiation effects on plants: induction of morphogenic responses


*e-mail: marcel.jansen@bbsrc.ac.uk


Plants raised under field conditions are acclimated to ambient levels of solar UV-B radiation. Morphogenic responses are part of the UV-B acclimation process and have been hypothesized to contribute to UV avoidance. UV-B induced morphogenic responses include inhibition of hypocotyl and stem elongation, leaf curling, leaf thickening and increased axillary branching. So far, neither the photosensory nor the signal transduction mechanism involved in UV-B mediated morphogenesis has been identified. The combination of classical photobiological techniques and Arabidopsis genetic resources comprises a powerful tool for the analysis of morphogenic responses. However, no morphogenic mutants, specifically altered in their response to UV-B, have yet been identified. In this paper we discuss the possibility that some UV-B driven morphogenic responses do not involve a dedicated photosensory system, but rather are a consequence of UV-B induced changes in secondary metabolism. UV-B induced flavonoid aglycones and phenol-oxidizing peroxidases can affect, respectively, polar auxin transport and auxin catabolism, and hence plant architecture. Integration of genetic, photobiological, biochemical and physiological approaches is necessary to fully appraise the ecophysiological role of UV-B radiation in controlling plant architecture.