How sensitive is Melissa officinalis to realistic ozone concentrations?

Anne Sarah Döring, Elisa Pellegrini, Alessandra Campanella, Alice Trivellini, Clizia Gennai, Maike Petersen, Cristina Nali, Giacomo Lorenzini
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry: PPB 2014, 74: 156-64
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, L.; Lamiaceae) was exposed to realistic ozone (O3) dosages (80 ppb for 5 h), because high background levels of O3 are considered to be as harmful as episodic O3 regimes. Temporal alterations of different ecophysiological, biochemical and structural parameters were investigated in order to test if this species can be considered as an O3-bioindicator regarding changes in background concentrations. At the end of ozone exposure, the plants did not exhibit any visible foliar symptoms, as only at microscopic level a small number of dead cells were found. Photosynthetic processes, however, were significantly affected. During and after the treatment, ozone induced a reduction in CO2 fixation capacity (up to 52% after 12 h from the beginning of the treatment) due to mesophyllic limitations. Intercellular CO2 concentration significantly increased in comparison to controls (+90% at the end of the post-fumigation period). Furthermore impairment of carboxylation efficiency (-71% at the end of the post-fumigation period compared to controls in filtered air) and membrane damage in terms of integrity (as demonstrated by a significant rise in solute leakage) were observed. A regulatory adjustment of photosynthetic processes was highlighted during the post-fumigation period by the higher values of qNP and (1-q(P)) and therefore suggests a tendency to reduce the light energy used in photochemistry at the expense of the capacity to dissipate the excess as excitation energy. In addition, the chlorophyll a/b ratio and the de-epoxidation index increased, showing a rearrangement of the pigment composition of the photosynthetic apparatus and a marked activation of photoprotective mechanisms.

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