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Maize growth and developmental responses to temperature and ultraviolet-B radiation interaction


Plant response to the combination of two or more abiotic stresses is different than its response to the same stresses singly. The response of maize (Zea mays L.) photosynthesis, growth, and development processes were examined under sunlit plant growth chambers at three levels of each day/night temperatures (24/16°C, 30/22°C, and 36/28°C) and UV-B radiation levels (0, 5, and 10 kJ m−2 d−1) and their interaction from 4 d after emergence to 43 d. An increase in plant height, leaf area, node number, and dry mass was observed as temperature increased. However, UV-B radiation negatively affected these processes by reducing the rates of stem elongation, leaf area expansion, and biomass accumulation. UV-B radiation affected leaf photosynthesis mostly at early stage of growth and tended to be temperature-dependent. For instance, UV-B radiation caused 3–15% decrease of photosynthetic rate (P N) on the uppermost, fully expanded leaves at 24/16°C and 36/28°C, but stimulated P N about 5–18% at 30/22°C temperature. Moreover, the observed UV-B protection mechanisms, such as accumulation of phenolics and waxes, exhibited a significant interaction among the treatments where these compounds were relatively less responsive (phenolics) or more responsive (waxes) to UV-B radiation at higher temperature treatments or vice versa. Plants exposed to UV-B radiation produced more leaf waxes except at 24/16°C treatment. The detrimental effect of UV-B radiation was greater on plant growth compared to the photosynthetic processes. Results suggest that maize growth and development, especially stem elongation, is highly sensitive to current and projected UV-B radiation levels, and temperature plays an important role in the magnitude and direction of the UV-B mediated responses.

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biomass accumulation rate






days after emergence


quantum efficiency by oxidized (open) PSII reaction center in light or actual PSII efficiency


leaf area


leaf area expansion rate


main stem elongation rate


main stem node number


plant height

P N :

net photosynthetic rate


soilplant-atmosphere research


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Correspondence to V. R. Reddy.

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Acknowledgements: This research was funded in part by the USDA-UV-B Monitoring Program at Colorado State University, CO. We also thank Mr. David Brand for technical support. This article is a contribution from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, paper no. J-12101.

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Singh, S.K., Reddy, K.R., Reddy, V.R. et al. Maize growth and developmental responses to temperature and ultraviolet-B radiation interaction. Photosynthetica 52, 262–271 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11099-014-0029-6

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Additional key words

  • photosynthesis
  • phenolic compounds, stem elongation, waxes