While absorbing visible light energy for photosynthesis, plants are unavoidably exposed to ultraviolet radiation, which is particularly harmful at shorter wavelengths (UV-B radiation). Ozone depletion in the atmosphere means that plants receive episodic or steadily increasing doses of UV-B, which damages their photosynthetic reaction centres, crosslinks cellular proteins, and induces mutagenic DNA lesions1. Plant adaptive mechanisms of shielding and repair are therefore critical to survival — for example, somatic tissues of maize and Arabidopsis defective in phenolic sunscreen pigments2, 3 incur increased DNA damage, and mutants defective in DNA repair4,5 are killed by UV-B.
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Walbot, V. UV-B damage amplified by transposons in maize. Nature 397, 398–399 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/17043
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