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  • 1 Agricultural Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Martonvásár Hungary
  • | 2 Pannon University Department of Plant Physiology, Georgikon Faculty Keszthely Hungary
  • | 3 National Meteorological Service Budapest Hungary
  • | 4 Eötvös Loránd University Department of Plant Physiology and Molecular Plant Biology Budapest Hungary
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The level of UV-B radiation reaching the surface of the earth is increasing due to the thinning of the ozone layer in the stratosphere over recent decades. This has numerous negative effects on living organisms.Some of the Hungarian inbred maize lines examined under the climatic conditions in Chile exhibited an unusually high proportion of pollen mortality, flowering asynchrony and barrenness. The evidence suggests that this can be attributed to the approx. 30% greater UV-B radiation in Chile.The investigation of this problem within the framework of abiotic stress breeding programmes is extremely important in the light of the global rise in UV-B radiation, which may make it necessary to elaborate a selection programme to develop inbred lines with better tolerance of this type of radiation.In the course of the experiment the same ten inbred lines, having different maturity dates and genetic backgrounds, were tested for five years in Chile and Hungary. The tests focussed on anthocyanin, a flavonoid derivative involved in the absorption of damaging UV-B radiation.Averaged over years and varieties, the total anthocyanin content in the leaf samples was significantly higher in Chile than in Hungary. This was presumably a response at the metabolic level to the negative stress represented by higher UV-B radiation.In the five early-maturing flint lines the anthocyanin contents were more than 45% greater than those recorded in Hungary. This suggests that these genotypes, originating from northern regions, were not sufficiently adapted to the higher radiation level. In these samples higher UV-B caused a sharp rise in the quantity of anthocyanin, which absorbs the dangerous radiation. In late-maturing genotypes the initial content of the protective compound anthocyanin was higher at both locations, so in these types the high radiation level was not a problem and did not cause any substantial change.Similar conclusions were drawn from the results of fluorescence imaging. The F440/F690 ratio indicative of the stress level was higher in late lines with a high anthocyanin content, good tolerance and good adaptability.

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