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    How Plants Are Protected From Sunburn

    Monday, April 15, 2019 Last Updated 2019-10-23T20:44:27Z
    Even though plants need to absorb light from the Sun to make food through photosynthesis, ultraviolet radiation from the Sun can damage a plant’s DNA and stop it from growing. In that way, sunburns are potentially as dangerous for plants as for humans.

    But plants can’t lather themselves with sunscreen like we can. Instead, they produce special molecules called sinapate esters which are transported to their leaves to prevent ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation from penetrating the outer layers and burning the plant.

    One particular kind of sinapate ester, sinapoyl malate, absorbs the complete spectrum of UV-B radiation to prevent damage to the plant’s DNA.

    Although these UV-B wavelengths are the same ones that damage human DNA, researchers don’t intend to add sinapoyl malate to sunblocks for people.

    They believe that the cinnamates we already use in our sunscreens are just as effective.

    Instead, scientists believe that this information should be used to develop plants that can withstand the greater radiation levels that may accompany global warming.


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