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Contrasting physiological responses of ozone-tolerant Phaseolus vulgaris and Nicotiana tobaccum varieties to ozone and nitric acid


Ozone (O3) and nitric acid (HNO3) are synthesized by the same atmospheric photochemical processes and are almost always co-pollutants. Effects of O3 on plants have been well-elucidated, yet less is known about the effects of HNO3 on plants. We investigated the physiological effects of experimental O3 and HNO3 fumigation on Phaseolus vulgaris (snap bean) and Nicotiana tobaccum (tobacco) varieties with known sensitivity to O3, but unknown responses to HNO3. Responses were measured as leaf absorptance, aboveground plant biomass, and photosynthetic CO2-response curve parameters. Our results demonstrate that O3 reduced absorptance, stomatal conductance and plant biomass in both species, and maximum photosynthetic rate in P. vulgaris, whereas the main effect of HNO3 was an increase in mesophyll conductance. Overall, the results suggest that HNO3 affects mesophyll conductance through increased nitrogen absorbed by leaves during HNO3 deposition which in turn increases photosynthetic demand for CO2, or that damage to epicuticular waxes on leaves increased diffusion of CO2 to sites of carboxylation.

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