The cuticular wax of the dwarf mountain pine enhances photosynthesis by using fluorophores that convert UV light into blue light that can be used for photosynthesis under low‑light conditions.


The dwarf mountain pine (Pinus mugo) grows at high elevations in the Alps on vertical or nearly-vertical slopes, often leaving it shaded by other foliage.  Unlike many plants which produce seed seasonally, the mountain pine produces seed all-year round. The production and development of these seeds requires significant amounts of energy from , but the constant shading from other trees makes access to light difficult.  Thus, the mountain pine must be able to maximize its photosynthetic capacity even under low light-conditions in order to ensure seed production.

Plants normally absorb light in the visible spectrum, and either scatter or filter UV light because it can be damaging to multiple plant processes. However, the leaves of the dwarf mountain pine contain a waxy cuticle loaded with fluorophores, which absorb UV light and convert it into blue light, which can then be used for photosynthesis. This allows the mountain pine to increase the amount of light it can use for photosynthesis, providing it with energy even under low-light conditions.

This strategy was contributed by Maria Miller and Ceire McGinley.

Image: Македонец / CC BY SA - Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike

Pinus mugo Terra

Last Updated July 2, 2020