This study examined whether two genotypes of hybrid poplar (Populus deltoides × Populus trichocarpa), previously classified as ozone tolerant and ozone sensitive, had differing physiological and biochemical responses when fumigated with 120 nL L−1 ozone for 6 h per day for eight consecutive days. Isoprene emission rate, ozone uptake and a number of physiological and biochemical parameters were investigated before, during and after fumigation with ozone. Previous studies have shown that isoprene protects plants against oxidative stress. Therefore, it was hypothesized that these two genotypes would differ in either their basal isoprene emission rates or in the response of isoprene to fumigation by ozone.
Our results showed that the basal emission rates of isoprene, physiological responses and ozone uptake rates were all similar. However, significant differences were found in visible damage, carotenoids, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), thiobarbituric acid reactions (TBARS) and post-fumigation isoprene emission rates. It is shown that, although the classification of ozone tolerance or sensitivity had been previously clearly and carefully defined using one particular set of parameters, assessment of other key variables does not necessarily lead to the same conclusions. Thus, it may be necessary to reconsider the way in which plants are classified as ozone tolerant or sensitive.