Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 475–489 | Cite as

UV-B damage and protection at the molecular level in plants

  • Åke Strid
  • Wah Soon Chow
  • Jan M. Anderson
Terrestrial photosynthesis Minireview


Influx of solar UV-B radiation (280–320 nm) will probably increase in the future due to depletion of stratospheric ozone. In plants, there are several targets for the deleterious UV-B radiation, especially the chloroplast. This review summarizes the early effects and responses of low doses of UV-B at the molecular level. The DNA molecules of the plant cells are damaged by UV due to the formation of different photoproducts, such as pyrimidine dimers, which in turn can be combatted by specialized photoreactivating enzyme systems. In the chloroplast, the integrity of the thylakoid membrane seems to be much more sensitive than the activities of the photosynthetic components bound within. However, the decrease of mRNA transcripts for the photosynthetic complexes and other chloroplast proteins are among very early events of UV-B damage, as well as protein synthesis. Other genes, encoding defence-related enzymes, e.g., of the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway, are rapidly up-regulated after commencement of UV-B exposure. Some of the cis-acting nucleotide elements and trans-acting protein factors needed to regulate the UV-induced expression of the parsley chalcone synthase gene are known.

Key words

DNA repair flavonoids gene expression oxidative stress photosynthesis promoter 



base pairs


chalcone synthase


common plant regulatory factor


glutathione reductase


reduced glutathione


oxidized glutathione


phenylalanine ammonia lyase


1,5-ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase


superoxide dismutase


ultraviolet radiation between 320–400 nm


ultraviolet radiation between 280–320 nm


biologically effective dose of ultraviolet-B radiation normalized to 300 nm


ultraviolet radiation below 280 nm


4-coumarate: CoA ligase


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Åke Strid
    • 1
  • Wah Soon Chow
    • 1
  • Jan M. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Division of Plant Industry and Cooperative Research Centre for Plant ScienceCanberraAustralia

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