• ozone (O3);
  • Plantago major;
  • gas exchange;
  • photosynthesis;
  • stomatal conductance;
  • relative stomatal limitation;
  • chlorophyll fluorescence;
  • Rubisco


  • • 
    The potential limitations on net leaf carbon assimilation imposed by stomatal conductance, carboxylation velocity, capacity for ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate regeneration and triose phosphate ultilization rate were derived from steady-state gas exchange measurements made over the life-span of two leaves on plants of an ‘O3-sensitive’ population of Plantago major grown at contrasting atmospheric O3 concentrations.
  • • 
    Parallel measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence were used to monitor changes in the quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry, and in vitro measurements of Rubisco activity were made to corroborate modelled gas exchange data.
  • • 
    Data indicated that a loss of Rubisco was predominantly responsible for the decline in CO2 assimilation observed in O3-treated leaves. The quantum efficiency of PSII was unchanged by O3 exposure.
  • • 
    Stomatal aperture declined in parallel with CO2 assimilation in O3-treated plants, but this did not account for the observed decline in photosynthesis. Findings suggested that O3-induced shifts in stomatal conductance result from ‘direct’ effects on the stomatal complex as well as ‘indirect effects’ mediated through changes in intercellular CO2 concentration. Leaves on the same plant exposed to equivalent levels of O3 showed striking differences in their response to the pollutant.