Seasonal and species-specific response of VOC emissions by Mediterranean woody plant to elevated ozone concentrations

J. Llusià, J. Peñuelas, B. S. Gimeno

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    Although certain factors controlling plant emission rates of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are reasonably well understood, the influence of elevated ozone concentrations as abiotic stress is mostly unknown. Therefore, we studied the effects of ozone concentrations on seasonal biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions by different Mediterranean plant species in open top chambers (OTC). Three ozone treatments were established: filtered air (F), non-filtered air (NF), and fumigated air (NF+) adding 40nll-1 of ozone over NF. We studied the response of VOC emission in saplings of four Mediterranean woody plant species and subspecies: Ceratonia siliqua L., Olea europaea L., Quercus ilex spp. ilex L., and Quercus ilex spp. rotundifolia L. as representative of natural Mediterranean vegetation. No visible symptoms were detected on the leaves. No significant effect was found on net photosynthetic rates or stomatal conductance except for an increase in net photosynthetic rates in Quercus ilex ilex in spring and summer and an overall slight increase in Quercus ilex rotundifolia. Emissions of the total VOCs from Ceratonia siliqua in summer, and from Olea europaea and Quercus ilex rotundifolia in spring increased in ozone fumigated OTC in comparison with F or NF OTC. Decreased emissions were found in Quercus ilex rotundifolia in summer. There were no significant differences between ozone fumigation treatments for the other plant species and seasons. When considering particular VOCs, the results were also variable among species and time of the year. While α-pinene emissions decreased with ozone fumigation in Olea europaea, α-pinene and limonene emissions increased in Quercus ilex ilex. The responses of these particular VOCs did not always match the responses of total VOCs. In spite of this strong variability, when considering overall annual data for all species and seasons, there were increased net photosynthetic rates (37%) and limonene (95%) and total VOC (45%) emission rates in ozone-fumigated plants, whereas stomatal conductance did not change. Since VOCs are precursors of ozone, the increase in BVOC emission as a consequence of elevated tropospheric ozone concentrations may lead to positive feedback mechanisms in ozone formation. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3931-3938
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Issue number24
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2002


    • Biogenic VOCS
    • Ceratonia siliqua
    • Olea europaea
    • Quercus ilex ilex
    • Quercus ilex rotundifolia
    • Terpenes
    • Tropospheric ozone


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