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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 33(11)

Physiological changes and UV protection in the aquatic liverwort Jungermannia exsertifolia subsp. cordifolia along an altitudinal gradient of UV-B radiation

María Arróniz-Crespo A, Encarnación Núñez-Olivera A, Javier Martínez-Abaigar A C, Hans Becker B, Jochen Scher B, Josef Zapp B, Rafael Tomás A, Nathalie Beaucourt A

A Universidad de La Rioja, Complejo Científico-Tecnológico, Avda. Madre de Dios 51, 26006 Logroño (La Rioja), Spain.
B Pharmakognosie und Analytische Phytochemie, Universität des Saarlandes, Gebäude C2.2, D-66041 Saarbrücken, Germany.
C Corresponding author. Email: javier.martinez@daa.unirioja.es
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Here we report the effects of a natural altitudinal gradient of UV-B radiation, from 1140 to 1816 m altitude, on the physiology of the aquatic liverwort Jungermannia exsertifolia Steph. subsp. cordifolia (Dumort.) Váña collected in mountain streams. Photosynthetic pigments, net photosynthesis and dark respiration rates, chlorophyll fluorescence, protein concentration, sclerophylly, and UV-absorbing compounds [both global UV absorbance of methanol-extractable UV-absorbing compounds (MEUVAC) and concentrations of five individual compounds] were measured. Two new caffeic acid derivatives were discovered: 5″-(7″,8″-dihydroxycoumaroyl)-2-caffeoylmalic acid and 5″-(7″,8″-dihydroxy-7-O-β-glucosyl-coumaroyl)-2-caffeoylmalic acid, whereas three additional compounds were already known in other species: p-coumaroylmalic acid, phaselic acid (both compounds in their cis- and trans- forms) and feruloylmalic acid. Most physiological variables changed considerably along the altitudinal gradient, but only six showed significant linear relationships with altitude: MEUVAC levels, the concentrations of the two new secondary compounds, the maximal apparent electron transport rate through PSII (ETRmax) and the maximal non-photochemical quenching (NPQmax) increased with altitude, whereas photoinhibition percentage decreased. A principal components analysis (PCA) was conducted to rank the values of the physiological and ecological variables obtained along the altitudinal transect, showing that those variables correlated with altitude were responsible for the ordination of the sampling points. The liverwort was not adversely affected by the changing conditions along the altitudinal gradient and, in particular, by the increasing UV-B irradiance, probably because the characteristics shown by high-altitude populations may confer tolerance to high UV-B levels. The response to UV-B of the two new compounds suggests that they could be used as indicators of the spatial changes in UV-B radiation.

Keywords: altitude, bryophytes, caffeic acid derivatives, liverworts, mountain streams, secondary metabolites, ultraviolet-absorbing compounds, ultraviolet-B.

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