Contrasting strategies for UV-B screening in sub-Arctic dwarf shrubs

S. I. Semerdjieva, E. Sheffield, G. K. Phoenix, Dylan Gwynn-Jones, Terry V. Callaghan, Giles N. Johnson

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59 Citations (SciVal)


The content and distribution of UV-absorbing phenolic compounds was investigated in leaves of three species of Vaccinium co-existing at a site in north Sweden. Vaccinium myrtillus L., Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., and Vaccinium uliginosum L. exhibit markedly different strategies, in terms of localization and content of leaf phenolics and in their responses to UV-B enhancement. Plants were exposed to either ambient radiation or to enhancement of UV-B corresponding to 15% (clear sky) depletion of stratospheric ozone for approximately 10 years prior to commencement of this study. Vaccinium myrtillus contained the highest concentration of methanol-extractable UV-B-absorbing compounds, which was elevated in plants exposed to enhanced UV-B. Fluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy showed that these compounds were distributed throughout the leaf, and were particularly concentrated in chlorophyll-containing cells. In V. vitis-idaea, most phenolic compounds were cell wall-bound and concentrated in the walls of the epidermis; this pool increased in response to UV-B enhancement. It is suggested that these two plants represent extreme forms of two divergent strategies for UV-B screening, the different responses possibly being related to leaf longevity in the two species. The response of V. uliginosum was intermediate between the other two, with high concentrations of cell wall-bound phenolics in the epidermis but with this pool decreasing, and the methanol-soluble pool tending to increase, after exposure to enhanced UV-B. One explanation for this response is that this plant is deciduous, like V. myrtillus, but has leaves that are structurally similar to those of V. vitis-idaea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-964
Number of pages8
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003


  • Vaccinium myrtillus
  • Vaccinium uliginosum
  • Vaccinium vitis-idaea
  • enhanced UB-B
  • fluorescence microscopy
  • phenolics


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