Is UV-induced DNA damage greater at higher elevation?

Qing Wei Wang, Jun Hidema, Kouki Hikosaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Premise of the study: Although ultraviolet radiation (UV) is known to have negative effects on plant growth, there has been no direct evidence that plants growing at higher elevations are more severely affected by ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation, which is known to increase with elevation. We examined damage to DNA, a primary target of UV-B, in the widespread species Polygonum sachalinense (Fallopia sachalinensis) and Plantago asiatica at two elevations. Methods: We sampled leaves of both species at 300 and 1700 m above sea level every 2 h for 11 d across the growing season and determined the level of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD), a major product of UV damage to DNA. Key results: The CPD level was significantly influenced by the time of day, date, elevation, and their interactions in both species. The CPD level tended to be higher at noon or on sunny days. DNA damage was more severe at 1700 m than at 300 m: on average, 8.7% greater at high elevation in P. asiatica and 7.8% greater in P. sachalinense. Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that the CPD level was explained mainly by UV-B and had no significant relationship with other environmental factors such as temperature and photosynthetically active radiation. Conclusions: UV-induced DNA damage in plants is greater at higher elevations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-802
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Climate change
  • Cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD)
  • Elevational effect
  • UV damage
  • UV-B radiation


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