We examined the influence of solar ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B; 280–320 nm) on the growth, biomass production and phenylpropanoid concentrations of Deschampsia antarctica during the springtime ozone depletion season at Palmer Station, along the Antarctic Peninsula. Treatments involved placing filters on frames over potted plants that reduced levels of biologically effective UV-B either by 83% (reduced UV-B) or by 12% (near-ambient UV-B) over the 63 day experiment (7 November 1998–8 January 1999) when ozone depletion averaged 17%. Plants growing under near-ambient UV-B had 41% and 40% lower relative growth rates and net assimilation rates, respectively, than those under reduced UV-B. The former plants produced 50% less total biomass as a result of having 47% less aboveground biomass. The reduction in aboveground biomass was a result of a 29% lower leaf elongation rate resulting in shorter leaves and 59% less total leaf area in plants grown under reduced UV-B. p-Coumaric, caffeic and ferulic acids were the major hydroxycinnamic acids, and luteolin derivatives were the major flavonoids in both insoluble and soluble leaf extracts. Concentrations of insoluble p-coumaric and caffeic acid and soluble ferulic acids were 38%, 48% and 60% higher, respectively, under near-ambient UV-B than under reduced UV-B. There were no UV-B effects on concentrations of insoluble or soluble flavonoids.
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Vol. 81 • No. 5