Diverse flavonoid compounds are widely distributed in angiosperm families. Flavonoids absorb radiation in the ultraviolet (UV) region of the spectrum, and it has been proposed that these compounds function as UV filters. We demonstrate that the DNA in Zea mays plants that contain flavonoids (primarily anthocyanins) is protected from the induction of damage caused by UV radiation relative to the DNA in plants that are genetically deficient in these compounds. DNA damage was measured with a sensitive and simple assay using individual monoclonal antibodies, one specific for cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer damage and the other specific for pyrimidine(6,4)pyrimidone damage.
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