Publication Details

Robinson, S. A. & Waterman, M. J. (2014). Sunsafe bryophytes: photoprotection from excess and damaging solar radiation. Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration, 37 113-130.


Whilst light is essential for photosynthesis and development of plants, both excess photosynthetically active radiation and certain wavelengths (e.g. high energy ultraviolet-B) radiation can be damaging. Plants in general possess a suite of mechanisms that act to either prevent absorption of damaging and excess radiation or to mitigate against the damage that such radiation can cause once it is absorbed. Whilst bryophytes share many of these photoprotective mechanisms with the vascular plants, there are key differences in the photoprotection available to bryophytes. Some of these differences pertain to structural features, such as protective epidermal layers, that are available to vascular plants but not generally to bryophytes. Bryophytes thus have to invest more in cellular level photoprotection than vascular plants. In other respects bryophytes may retain mechanisms found in algal ancestors (e.g. thermal energy dissipation associated with the LHCSR protein) that have been lost during the evolution of vascular plants. Many bryophytes are able to manage light absorption during desiccation and rehydration and freezing and thawing, resulting in potentially novel mechanisms of energy dissipation. Given the high stress environments that many bryophytes inhabit, from hot or frozen deserts to alpine habitats with high incident UV-B radiation, it is unsurprising that they have a suite of photoprotective strategies.

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