503 Evidence for Toxic Effects of Cellulose Acetate in UV Exclusion Studies on `Ashley' Cucumber Seedlings

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  • 1 Climate Stress Laboratory, ARS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350

Cellulose diacetate has been widely used in UV-B enhancement studies under field and controlled-environment conditions since the early 1970s to remove wavelengths below ≈290 nm, without any evidence of toxicity effects. However, while conducting UV-B exclusion studies in window boxes covered with cellulose diacetate (CA) or in Plexiglas chambers lined with CA, there was marginal chlorosis and cotyledon epinasty in `Ashley' cucumber, which is normally resistant to elevated UV-B, while seedlings exposed to open sunlight and those grown under polyester (PE) film to exclude UV-B were free of visible injury. These findings suggested that the CA filter itself may be causing toxicity. To test this hypothesis, a UV exclusion study was conducted in which CA or Teflon (T), both UV-B and UV-A transmitting films, were used to cover window boxes in the following four combinations (top/bottom): CA/CA, CA/T,T/CA, and T/T. When CA was used as the bottom filter (CA/CA and T/CA), the plants showed significantly greater leaf injury and a 2- to 3-fold reduction in growth than when T was used as the bottom filter (CA/T and T/T). These findings suggest that toxicity is caused by CA itself rather than by solar UV-B radiation, possibly as a result of outgassing of phthalates known to be used as plasticizers in the manufacture of CA. Further evidence that CA was responsible for leaf injury was provided by a companion study in which T was replaced by PE and damage was still observed, although no significant growth effects of CA position were observed.

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