© 2020 American Society for Photobiology Combined enhanced UV-B radiation and drought may induce different morphological and physiological alterations in plants than either abiotic stress alone. We evaluated morphology, biomass, and primary and secondary metabolism changes in seedlings of two common bean cultivars, IAC Imperador (drought-resistant) and IAC Milênio. To test the hypothesis that cultivars responded differently to combined stresses in a controlled environment, seedlings of the examined been cultivars were exposed to UV-B and/or drought treatments for three weeks. The cultivars behaved differently, especially to the drought treatment, suggesting that they use different mechanisms to cope with unfavorable environmental conditions. IAC Imperador showed a stronger protective response, modifying wax composition and primary metabolism, and improving its resistance to UV-B radiation. For IAC Imperador, the accumulation of cuticular wax and alkane was higher under combined stress but production of primary alcohols was reduced, suggesting a possible fatty acyl switch. Root/shoot length and biomass ratios increased in both cultivars, particularly for the combined stress, indicating a common plant response. We show that these two bean cultivars responded more strongly to UV-B and combined stress than drought alone as evident in changes to their chemistry and biology. This shows the importance of investigating plant morphological and physiological responses to combined stress.
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