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Abstract

The ultraviolet-B (UV-B) portion of sunlight has received much attention in the last three decades, because radiation from this spectral region increases due to the stratospheric ozone depletion, which results from increases of chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. Plant responses to UV-B exposure vary greatly and the interpretation of and comparison between studies is hindered, mainly by the contrasting experimental conditions used and interactive factors such as low light levels and possible artifacts due to the artificial experimental conditions. It seems likely that increases in solar UV-B radiation of the magnitude anticipated under current stratospheric ozone projections will not significantly inhibit photosynthesis and cause DNA damage in plants. This is in part due to the well-evolved protection mechanisms present in most plant species. One of the significant plant responses to UV-B is changes in foliar secondary chemistry, which could be translated into significant effects at higher trophic levels through plant-herbivore interactions and decomposition. Enhanced UV-B radiation due to stratospheric ozone depletion could also cause morphological changes that would affect competitive interactions, especially if contrasting UV-B sensitivity exists among the competitors.