The Effect of UV Light Exposure on Sunflowers
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By Sarah Bartlett, Bilogical Sciences and Ballet
Advisor: Theresa Culley
Award: Excellence in Research Communication
Presentation ID: 277
Abstract: Plants require specific wavelengths of sunlight to photosynthesize in order to survive. This research aims to investigate the impact of UV light on plant growth and flowering. Sunflower plants were grown in modern greenhouse rooms constructed of either glazing (replacing typical glass) that allows UV light through or standard greenhouse glazing that blocks UV light. Four different cultivars of Helianthus annuus sunflowers ('Sonja', 'Big Smile', 'Sunrich Orange', and 'Zohar') were grown from seed for 3 months in both types of greenhouse conditions, before being harvested. Their growth rates and dried biomass were compared within the UV-exposed and UV-blocked treatments. Regardless of cultivar, sunflowers grown under UV light were generally shorter and had fewer nodes than plants without UV light. With the exception of the 'Sonja' dwarf cultivar, all cultivars exhibited lower total biomass under UV light than when grown under normal non-UV light conditions; this was also true for vegetation and floral biomass. In contrast, all four cultivars had higher relative growth rates when grown in the UV light than under non-UV conditions. Consequently, this means that although plants may grow faster under UV light, their height and biomass was not as great as for plants grown without exposure to UV. The results of this research can be used to provide insight on the most ideal greenhouse construction materials as well as growth conditions for commercially sold flowering plants and crops.