Plant Survival Under Natural UV Radiation on Earth: UV Adaptive/UV-Adapted Traits

  • Swati Sen Mandi


Plants, serving as primary producers, are central to perpetuation of life on earth. Being equipped with the unique feature of cellular plasticity, plants exhibit flexibility in temporal cell molecular rearrangements as a means of adjustment to variation in ambient UV radiation. In the “post ozone hole” era, when enhanced UV fluence challenges survival of life forms on earth it is imperative to develop in depth understanding on UV acclimation related variation in traits of ecological significance and thus of evolutionary potential in plants.

While high-intensity UV radiation at high intensity induces cell molecular damages, UV fluence retrieved after transmission through weather fluctuation-related diurnal/aerosol/cloud cover as intermittent low-dose UV radiation epigenetically upregulates the synthesis of enzymes for (i) enhancement of UV protective compounds viz. flavonoids (specifically synthesized in plants) that function as internal UV screen and also as antioxidants for countering UV-induced oxidative damage and for (ii) repair of macromolecules, viz., DNA. Such cell molecular events (with flavonoids as the key player) orchestrate typical phenotypic outcomes manifested as UV adaptive traits that confer “fitness advantage” under potentially damaging UV radiation. The flexibility of UV adaptive plants to adjust with variation in UV environment make them ecologically significant.

During prolonged persistence under high-intensity UV radiation and associated recurring weather fluctuation-related low-dose UV fluence, the UV adaptive epigenetic traits are likely to be imprinted in the genome thereby establishing (UV adapted / ‘fixed’ trait (cf constitutive traits). UV adapted plants with ‘fixed trait’, remain unchanged through short term variation in UV ambience; such traits exhibit evolutionary potential.

Stability of UV adapted traits, particularly with respect to flavonoids that being specifically synthesized in plants (as an UV acclimation strategy), provide useful compounds of medicinal (antioxidative) potential. This makes these genotypes suitable for exploitation (using conventional/modern biotechnological means). Applications of biotechnology for overexpressing secondary metabolites viz. flavonoids of human interest in some crop plants are delineated in this chapter.

A case study on transmission of UV adapted trait (viz. seed viability) through marker assisted breeding has been elaborated in this chapter to exemplify conventional practice of using cultivars with fixed UV adapted traits in cultivation programmes regardless of UV fluence at different cultivation sites.


Marker Assisted Breeding Seed Vigour Tartary Buckwheat High Vigour Germination Performance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer (India) Pvt. Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Swati Sen Mandi
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Plant BiologyBose InstituteKolkataIndia

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