Do mosses get sun burn?

UV-A Protection in Mosses Growing in the Continental Antarctic


The simple structure of mosses, a major component of Antarctic terrestrial vegetation, has led to suggestions that they might be exceptionally sensitive to enhanced UV from the ozone hole. The results presented here show that the mosses Ceratodon purpureus and Bryum subrotundifolium are resistant to UV-A and that the latter species can rapidly change its protection to suit the UV environment. The studies were made using a UV-A PAM chlorophyll fluorescence fluorometer that allowed absorption of UV-A before arrival at the chloroplast (i.e. UV-A shielding) to be estimated. Both C. purpureus and B. subrotundifolium have sun and shade forms that differ markedly in colour and their protection from UV-A. Shade forms of B. subrotundifolium, initially low in UV-A protection, achieve full, sun-form levels in about 6 days when exposed to ambient sunlight. These results, taken with other recent studies, suggest that not only are Antarctic mosses well protected from ambient UV, but are also as adaptable to incident UV as higher plants.

Citation: Green, T. G. Allan, Daniel Kulle, Stefan Pannewitz, Leo G. Sancho und Burkhard Schroete (2005): «UV-A Protection in Mosses Growing in Continental Antarctica». In: Polar Biology, 28:11, 822-827.

  • Polar Biology
  • 2005