Effects of spring and summer levels of UV-B radiation on the growth and reproduction of a temperate perennial forb

Eric S. McCloud, May R. Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Narrow-leaved plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.), a perennial forb, flowers for virtually the full length of the growing season in temperate latitudes and as a result it is exposed to widely variable intensities of shortwave (UV-B) radiation. In order to determine effects of spring and summer levels of UV-B exposure on growth and development, representatives of 42 maternal families were grown for 85 days at 3.2 and 6.4 kJ m-2 day-1 BE300, levels corresponding to early spring and mid-summer in central Illinois. Impacts on early vegetative stages were most pronounced; early vegetative growth was decreased by higher levels of UV-B and both leaf angle (a measure of erectness) and leaf hair density were increased. At harvest, vegetative growth was significantly affected by higher levels of UV-B as well; the mass of senescent leaves and crown tissue were both decreased. Although exposure to higher levels of UV-B decreased inflorescence number by nearly 15%, it did not significantly alter reproductive biomass. Significant variation attributable to maternal families was present in nearly all measurements and the range of variation among families was wider than among UV-B treatments. A marginally significant (p = 0.07) maternal family by UV-B interaction was found for the number of inflorescences, suggesting that, within populations of this plant, some small amount of genetic variation exists to allow for differential reproductive performance under a regime simulating spring and summer differences in UV-B exposure. For the most part, however, in this cosmopolitan species the level of adaptation to natural levels of variation in UV-B radiation does not differ dramatically among maternal families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Genetic variation
  • Leaf hairs
  • Narrow-leaved plantain
  • Plant growth
  • Plantago lanceolata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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