Conifer needles are highly effective in screening ultraviolet-B radiation (280–320 nm). This ability is mainly attributed to the presence of flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids in the epidermal tissue. In two field cabinet experiments with two different clones of Norway spruce we assessed the seasonal accumulation of UV-B screening pigments under near-ambient, and close-to-zero UV-B irradiation. At the beginning of needle development, i.e. in June, kaempferol 3-O-glucoside was the dominant UV-B screening pigment.
It was replaced during needle differentiation by the more effective diacylated flavonol glucosides, particulary kaempferol 3-O-(3",6"-O-di-p-coumaroyl)-glucoside, which reached highest concentrations in July. In addition to the soluble pool of diacylated flavonol glucoside derivatives, a cell wall-bound UV-B screen in the epidermal cell walls was formed during needle differentiation, consisting mainly of p-coumaric acid and kaempferol 3-O-glucoside.
An effect of UV-B radiation on the accumulation of diacylated flavonol glucosides was only observed in 1996 with clone 2, when the concentrations of kaempferol 3-O-(3",6"-O-di-p-coumaroyl)-glucoside were significantly higher in July and August under field, and near-ambient than under close-to-zero UV-B irradiance. For wall-bound p-coumaric acid and kaempferol 3-O-glucoside UV-B radiation enhanced the concentrations of these compounds by approximately 20% in relation to the concentrations in close-to-zero UV-B-treated plants in both field cabinet experiments.
Fischbach, R.J., Kossmann, B., Panten, H., Steinbrecher, R., Heller, W., Seidlitz, H.K., Sandermann, H., Hertkorn, N. and SCHNITZLER, J.P., 1999. Seasonal accumulation of ultraviolet‐B screening pigments in needles of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). Plant, Cell & Environment, 22(1), pp.27-37.
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