Responses of herbaceous plants to urban air pollution: Effects on growth, phenology and leaf surface characteristics

Honour, Sarah L.; Bell, J. Nigel B.; Ashenden, Trevor A.; Cape, J. Neil; Power, Sally A.. 2009 Responses of herbaceous plants to urban air pollution: Effects on growth, phenology and leaf surface characteristics. Environmental Pollution, 157 (4). 1279-1286.

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Vehicle exhaust emissions are a dominant feature of urban environments and are widely believed to have detrimental effects on plants. The effects of diesel exhaust emissions on 12 herbaceous species were studied with respect to growth, flower development, leaf senescence and leaf surface wax characteristics. A diesel generator was used to produce concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx) representative of urban conditions, in solardome chambers. Annual mean NOx concentrations ranged from 77 nl l−l to 98 nl l−1, with NO:NO2 ratios of 1.4–2.2, providing a good experimental simulation of polluted roadside environments. Pollutant exposure resulted in species-specific changes in growth and phenology, with a consistent trend for accelerated senescence and delayed flowering. Leaf surface characteristics were also affected; contact angle measurements indicated changes in surface wax structure following pollutant exposure. The study demonstrated clearly the potential for realistic levels of vehicle exhaust pollution to have direct adverse effects on urban vegetation.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > BG02 Recovery from acidification and eutrophication
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Billett (to November 2013)
ISSN: 0269-7491
Additional Keywords: Vehicle emissions, Nitric oxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Senescence, Leaf contact angle
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Ecology and Environment
Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 26 May 2009 13:30 +0 (UTC)

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