Ozone and Water Stress: Effects on the Behaviour of Two White Clover Biotypes

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Massimo Fagnano *
Gerardo Merola
(*) Corresponding Author:
Massimo Fagnano | mikimos@mac.com

Abstract

ozone pollution, water stress, stomata conductance, ozone uptake, clover, OTC.Ozone is a strong oxidizing pollutant which derives by alteration of the photolytic NOx cycle and it accumulates in the troposphere spreading in rural areas and therefore determining injuries on natural vegetation and crops. Since its penetration occurs mainly through stomata, all factors which alter plant-atmosphere relations could be able to modify plant response to ozone. Interaction between ozone and water stress in Mediterranean environment was studied on ozone resistant and sensitive biotypes of white clover, which were grown in charcoal filtered and notfiltered Open Top Chambers in factorial combination with different levels of water supply. Measurements of biomass, leaf area and stomatal conductance were made during the growth period. Ozone injuries were estimated as not-filtered/filtered OTC yield ratio; the stomatal flux of ozone was estimated multiplying stomata conductance x diffusivity ratio between ozone and water vapour (0.613) x ozone hourly concentrations. The hourly values of ozone uptake were cumulated throughout the cropping periods of the two years. In the sensitive biotype, water stress reduced yield losses due to ozone from 38% to 22%, as well as yield losses due to water stress were reduced by the presence of ozone from 43% to 29%, while no interaction between ozone and water stress was observed in the resistant biotype. Biomass yield losses of the sensitive biotype were strictly correlated to cumulated ozone uptake (R2 = 0.99), while biomass yield losses of the resistant biotype were not affected by the ozone fluxes variations created by the treatments. Flux based models could better estimate yield losses due to ozone in Mediterranean environments in which other stresses could be contemporary present; therefore, the new European directives might replace the actual thresholds based on ozone concentration with others based on ozone flux models.

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