In spinach (Spinacia oleracea L. cv. New Asia) plants fumigated with ozone in light, destruction of chlorophylls and carotenoids and formation of malondialdehyde (MDA), an indicator of lipid peroxidation, were observed. Chlorophyll a and carotenoids in leaves started to be broken down 6–8 h after the commencement of 0.5 ppm ozone fumigation, whereas MDA formation in leaves increased linearly for the initial 8 h of fumigation followed by a more rapid increase. In leaf discs excised from 6-h fumigated plants, destruction of chlorophyll a and carotenoids and MDA formation proceeded in the light but were almost completely suppressed under an anaerobic condition. Effects of exogenously applied scavengers of active oxygen species suggest that active oxygens, especially superoxide radical (O2-), participated in both the destruction of chlorophyll a and carotenoids and the formation of MDA. Ozone fumigation reduced the levels of endogenous scavengers of O2-, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and L-ascorbate, in leaves to one-half the initial levels each by 3.5 and 8 h fumigation, respectively. The results indicate that the photosynthetic pigments and lipids were broken down by active oxygens accumulated in leaves as a result of the ozone-induced destruction of physiological defense against oxygen toxicity.
Activity of polyphenol oxidase in chloroplast membranes of 4-h fumigated leaves increased to 240% of the initial level, suggesting that the thylakoid membranes had been affected severely before the pigment destruction. The relations between the pigment destruction and the disintegration of thylakoids are discussed.