Project at a Glance

Title: Effects of SO2 and ozone on crop physiology and productivity.

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Lauchli, Andre

Contractor: Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and the Department of Vegetable Crops, UC Davis

Contract Number: A9-050-31, A1-070-33, A2-117-33

Research Program Area: Ecosystem & Multimedia Effects

Topic Areas: Agriculture, Ecosystem Impacts, Impacts


Investigations conducted from 1982 through 1984 were directed to determine the effects of low level exposures of the gaseous air pollutants O3 and SO2 on some major crops grown in California. Plant growth and productivity were related to a number of physiological and biochemical parameters that could be used as markers in screening new crop introductions and established crop cultivars for improved air pollution resistance. The plant water status, behavior of cell membranes, and production of the gas ethylene from leaves were investigated. Intact plants, as well as specific plant tissues, were tested under both laboratory conditions with controlled environment and under field conditions in open-top fumigation chambers. The fate of SO2 in soils was also studied.

In assessing the effects of the gaseous air pollutants O3 and SO2 on plants it is necessary to distinguish between two principally different situations, acute and chronic episodes. Acute exposure of plants to high level pollution causes visual plant injury after a short period of time, and plants frequently release the gas ethane from leaves into the atmosphere, a condition indicative of severe tissue injury. Our investigations were not directed to acute exposure of air pollutants but were concerned with the effects of chronic exposure of plants to low level air pollution which usually do not cause immediate visible tissue injury.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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