Introduction

Many of the effects of UV-radiation are a function of solar activity, environmental conditions such as rainfall, temperatures, and the genomics of target organisms that determine population changes and environmental health. Once economically feasible models are established, warning signals, hazards and the environmental impacts can be monitored for decision-making purposes. Can the recent theoretical developments at the cellular, plant and population levels, and the use of integrated sets of instruments give us the benefits and early warnings of radiation damage up to a month or season in advance? To achieve this goal, new sensors and instruments, and a bewildering variety of factors will have to be sorted out.

A basic problem in modeling the effects of UV-radiation at the plant level is the need to detect, analyze and sort out huge volumes of low-level signals, and specific systematic responses without a basic and integrated understanding of cell biology. Stresses that occur at the same time may be of biotic and/or abiotic origins, either intended or unintended. We do not yet know how these relate to cellular maintenance, homeostasis, damage and repair processes, plant resilience, adaptive plasticity, and productivity.

At the individual cell level and in the laboratory, the monitoring of the responses to UV-light or to other stresses in three and four dimensions is typically done using laser confocal microscopy [1]. Monitoring individual plants and plant populations under field conditions raises the need for new instruments and strategies that sort out and integrate factors for a wide range of scientific, sustainable and economic objectives.

Instruments for the detection of radiation damage should employ different sensor designs, specific means of detection, and computing resources aimed at a decision-maker. Resources should distinguish between low- and high-level operational tasks for diverse missions. Agriculturists, silviculturists, environmentalists and heath-care professionals may have little experience but may need to know into how UV-radiation and new technological developments can be used to forecast and control hazards. This workshop aims to provide baseline information for the development and demonstration of UV-monitoring tools that will contribute to such a goal.

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