Response of two Antarctic bryophytes to stratospheric ozone depletion.

11 November 2002


We report a study which measured changes to the radiative environment arising from stratospheric O3 depletion at Rothera Point on the western Antarctic Peninsula (67°S, 68°W) and subsequent associations between these changes and the pigmentation and maximum quantum yield of photochemistry (Fv/Fm) of two Antarctic bryophytes, the liverwort Cephaloziella varians and the moss Sanionia uncinata. We found a strong relationship between O3 column depth and the ratio of UV-B to PAR irradiance (FUV-B/FPAR) recorded at ground level. Weaker, but significant, associations were also found between O3 column depth and noon irradiances and daily doses of unweighted and biologically effective UV-B radiation received at ground level. Regression analyses indicated that FUV-B/FPAR and daily dose of unweighted UV-B were best predictors for concentrations of total carotenoids and UV-B screening pigments extracted from bryophyte tissues. Concentrations of these pigments were loosely but significantly positively associated with O3-dependent irradiance parameters. HPLC analyses of carotenoids also suggested that both species increased the synthesis of neoxanthin during periods of O3 depletion. Violaxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and b,bββ-carotene concentrations were also apparently influenced by O3 reduction, but not consistently across both bryophyte species. Concentrations of chlorophylls a and b were apparently unaffected by O3 depletion.

No direct associations between Fv/Fm and O3-dependent irradiance parameters were found. However stepwise multiple regression analyses suggested that the production of UV-B screening pigments conferred protection from elevated FUV-B/FPAR on Fv/Fm in both species and that carotenoids conferred protection on Fv/Fm in Sanionia. Our data suggest that changes to the radiative environment associated with stratospheric O3 depletion influence the pigmentation of two Antarctic bryophytes, but that Fv/Fm is unaffected, at least in part because of rapid synthesis of protective pigments.


Newsham, K.K., Hodgson, D.A., Murray, A.W., Peat, H.J. and Smith, R.I., 2002. Response of two Antarctic bryophytes to stratospheric ozone depletion. Global Change Biology, 8(10), pp.972-983.

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