Inhibitory effects of ambient levels of solar UV-A and UV-B radiation on growth of cucumber


D. T. Krizek (corresponding author, e-mail et al.


The influence of solar UV-A and UV-B radiation at Beltsville, Maryland, on growth and flavonoid content in four cultivars of Cucumis sativus L. (Ashley, Poinsett, Marketmore, and Salad Bush cucumber) was examined during the summers of 1994 and 1995. Plants were grown from seed in UV exclusion chambers consisting of UV-transmitting Plexiglas, lined with Llumar to exclude UV-A and UV-B, polyester to exclude UV-B, or cellulose acetate to transmit UV-A and UV-B. Despite previously determined differences in sensitivity to supplemental UV-B radiation, all four cultivars responded similarly to UV-B exclusion treatment. After 19–21 days, the four cultivars grown in the absence of solar UV-B (polyester) had an average of 34, 55, and 40% greater biomass of leaves, stems, and roots, respectively, 27% greater stem height, and 35% greater leaf area than those grown under ambient UV-B (cellulose acetate). Plants protected from UV-A radiation as well (Llumar) showed an additional 14 and 22% average increase, respectively, in biomass of leaves and stems, and a 22 and 19% average increase, respectively, in stem elongation and leaf area over those grown under polyester. These findings demonstrate the extreme sensitivity of cucumber not only to present levels of UV-B but also to UV-A and suggest that even small changes in ozone depletion may have important biological consequences for certain plant species.