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Plant stress and human health: Do human consumers benefit from UV-B acclimated crops
- Jansen, Marcel A.K., Hectors, Kathleen, O'Brien, Nora M., Guisez, Yves, Potters, Geert
- Plant science 2008 v.175 no.4 pp. 449-458
- plant response, physiological response, nutritive value, metabolome, chemical constituents of plants, antioxidants, ascorbic acid, glutathione, tocopherols, polyamines, phenolic compounds, alkaloids, phytosterols, cyanogenic glycosides, glucosinolates, isoprenoids, secondary metabolites, plant stress, human health, ultraviolet radiation, acclimation
- Plants are sessile organisms, and consequently cannot avoid exposure to stressful environmental conditions. Exposure to mild stress conditions can induce active acclimation responses, while more severe conditions cause metabolic disruptions. A common plant acclimation response to a variety of environmental stressors is the accumulation of antioxidants and secondary metabolites. For example, ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation impacts on the levels of a broad range of metabolites, including phenolic, terpenoid and alkaloid compounds. Our survey of the literature reveals that the levels of some of these metabolites increase following UV-B exposure, while those of others decrease, change transiently or are differently affected by low and high UV-doses. This includes several compounds that are pharmacologically active and/or nutritionally important. We conclude that the complex patterns of stress-induced changes in plant metabolites need to be studied in more detail to determine impacts on the nutritional and pharmacological characteristics of food products. Claims that UV-B acclimated plants have nutritional benefits are currently unproven.