Do Plants Need UV Light?

Plants do not require UV radiation from the sun. In fact, it can cause poor growth or death by damaging plant proteins and DNA. To mitigate the threat, they display a complex response switched on by a UV-sensing protein molecule.

Researchers have identified a compound that can detect the presence of UV-B light and initiate a broad set of defensive actions. This response involves the expression of more than 100 genes, some of which govern activities like the formation of DNA-repair enzymes and other protective proteins. The chemical's principal investigator, Elizabeth Getzoff, called it "the plant equivalent of putting on sunscreen."