Apart from red (chlorophyll a) fluorescence, ultraviolet (UV) excitation of plant leaves results in blue–green intrinsic light emission. In order to analyse the potentially modifying influence of stress on this blue–green fluorescence (BGF), and to determine its origin, the fluorescence was characterised by spectroscopy, and two and three dimensional microscopy in leaves of Hordeum vulgare L. under UV and drought stress. Leaves of wild-type and proanthocyanidin-free mutant barley were compared. In general, the BGF was enhanced by stress. The analysis of the distribution of BGF pointed to differences in response to the different stress conditions and served to indicate possible sources of the fluorescence. This study showed that (1) the selective enhancement of BGF by supplementary UV radiation (280–360 nm) in upper leaf tissues of wild-type but not in proanthocyanidin-free leaves, pointed to flavonoids as possible emitters; (2) drought-inducible BGF emission was found in cell walls and to a smaller extent in upper leaf tissue regardless of genotype, thus independent of impairment in flavonoid biosynthesis and (3) intracellular BGF, which co-localised with red chlorophyll fluorescence, was inducible in mesophyll cells of both genotypes by short-term application of high levels of UV radiation.
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