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Differential response of alfalfa strains to chronic and acute fumigations with ozone sulfur dioxide nitrogen dioxide and a mixture of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide



Differential response of alfalfa strains to chronic and acute fumigations with ozone sulfur dioxide nitrogen dioxide and a mixture of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide



Rivista di Patologia Vegetale 21(1): 13-27



Twelve Italian ecotypes and varieties of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) have been subjected to chronic (15 days) fumigations with SO2 (80 ppb), NO2 (120 ppb) and a mixture of SO2 and NO2 (80 and 120 ppb, respectively) and to acute fumigations with O3 (250 ppb, 4 h), SO2 (660 ppb, 3 h), NO2 (1350 ppb, 3 h) and a mixture of SO2 and NO2 (600 and 1350 ppb, respectively, 3 h). The chronic treatment with SO2 significantly reduced the growth (in terms of total dry weight in comparison with filtered air controls) of vars. Cody and Semyrtchenskaia and of ecotype Romagnolo, although the plants showed only very mild symptoms (chlorosis). A complete lack of correlation between the responses of the strains to acute and chronic exposure to SO2 was found. This implies that short term studies with high concentrations are not suitable for evaluating the effects of long-term exposures of the lower concentrations common in polluted areas. A chronic pretreatment with SO2 or NO2 resulted in a significant reduction of sensitivity of var. Cane to a successive acute fumigation with the same pollutant. Similar responses have to a lesser extent been observed in other strains. Acute and chronic treatments with NO2 had little effect, but the mix treatments (SO2-NO2) gave rise to synergistic (more than additive) interactions in two strains with chronic fumigations, and in nine strains with acute fumigations. No antagonism between SO2 and NO2 has been observed. Difficulties in predicting the environmental impact of air pollution may arise because of the wide variability in responses to different pollutant treatments that exist even between strains of a single plant species.

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