Abstract Detail


Culley, Theresa [1], Bartlett, Sarah [1], Winter, Madison [1].

Differential Effects of Greenhouse Glazing on Germination, Growth, and Reproduction of Sunflower Cultivars (Helianthus annuus).

Plant growth and reproduction can be affected by environmental conditions such as light quantity and quality, which are usually assumed be relatively constant in a greenhouse facility. However, this assumption may not be always be true, especially in newer multi-use greenhouse facilities. Traditional greenhouses have long been constructed from glass, but newer structures may consist of advanced, transparent polycarbonate (Acrylite ®) panels. Although this plastic material is more impact-resistant than glass, it also is naturally UV-absorbing, which has the net effect of reducing the UV light level in newer greenhouses. This can be problematic if a greenhouse is used for both botanical and entomological research; arthropods such as spiders and Lepidoptera depend upon UV exposure for proper sexual maturation and activity. A solution is to create separate insect greenhouse spaces enclosed by specialized UV-transmitting polycarbonate. Consequently, newer multi-use greenhouses may be constructed of polycarbonate panels that naturally block UV in plant areas and panels that allow UV to be transmitted in insect areas.  While preparing for a new plant-insect study requiring us to grow plants within an insect room of a new greenhouse facility, we wondered about the impact of UV-transmitting polycarbonate glazing on plant performance. We conducted two experiments to examine the effect of UV-transmitting and UV-blocking polycarbonate glazing on the growth and reproduction of sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). In the first experiment, we planted the ‘Sunspot’ cultivar in two adjoining rooms constructed from either UV-blocking or UV-transmitting glazing, as well as within a shared hallway constructed of both glazing types. In the second experiment, four short sunflower cultivars (‘Sonja’, ‘Big Smile’, ‘Sunrich Orange’ and ‘Zohar’) were grown in adjoining rooms constructed of either of the two glazing types.  Under UV exposure, all cultivars exhibited faster seed germination and began to flower more quickly than under normal glazing that blocks UV. However, all cultivars consistently grew best with a faster relative growth rate, larger height, and greater vegetative and floral biomass when UV was naturally blocked. These differential effects were minimized when plants were grown in a common hallway, presumably because of higher temperatures that impacted both treatment groups. This study suggests that the type of polycarbonate greenhouse glazing in newer greenhouse facilities must be taken into consideration when designing plant growth experiments.

1 - University Of Cincinnati, Dept Biological Sciences, 614 Rieveschl Hall, Cincinnati, OH, 45221, United States

Plant Growth

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EC04002
Abstract ID:502
Candidate for Awards:None

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