Effects of ozone on zinc and cadmium accumulation in wheat – dose–response functions and relationship with protein, grain yield, and harvest index



Håkan Pleijel, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, P.O. Box 461, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden. Tel: +46 31 7862532; Fax: +46 31 7862560; E-mail: hakan.pleijel@bioenv.gu.se


Response functions for the effect of ozone on cadmium (Cd) (toxic to humans) and zinc (Zn) (essential nutrient for plants and humans) in wheat grain were derived for the first time. Data from four open-top chamber (OTC) experiments with field-grown wheat, performed in southwest Sweden, were used. Ozone exposure was expressed as the phytotoxic ozone dose above a threshold of 6 nmol/m2 per sec (POD6), and AOT40. Grain Zn concentration was significantly enhanced by ozone, while Zn yield was not affected. The positive ozone effect on grain Zn concentration was almost twice as large as the corresponding effect on grain protein concentration, most likely as a result of nitrogen availability being more limiting than Zn availability. Cd concentration was unaffected by ozone, but Cd yield was significantly negatively affected. For the variables studied, correlation was stronger with POD6 than AOT40, but in several cases, for example, for Zn concentration and Cd yield, there was practically no difference in the performance between the two exposure indices. From the literature, it is obvious that ozone has important adverse effects on wheat yield and certain quality traits. As shown in this study, there are also examples of ozone leading to improved quality, for example, in terms of enhanced Zn concentration of wheat grain. While OTC enclosure did not affect Zn accumulation in wheat grain, Cd accumulation was significantly positively affected, most likely through transpiration being enhanced by the OTC environment, promoting Cd uptake and transport through the plant.