Boosting vitamin C in plants can help reduce smog damage

ores or those with higher levels of vitamin C, open pores, and higher levels of photosynthetic activity. Those with the higher levels of vitamin C fared better in the long run, in both instances, despite the fact that more ozone entered through the open pores of the leaf, Gallie said.

Gallie and Chen's findings offer a clear direction for a strategy toward developing plants that will be able to grow and thrive in high-ozone environments such as cities and suburban areas.

"Because we're seeing, especially in this country, the encroachment of urban areas into farm lands, we're seeing an increased impact on agriculture. Moreover, ornamental plants used for urban and suburban landscaping are heavily affected by exposure to smog," said Gallie.

The next step in Gallie's research will focus on the apparent correlation between a plant's increased vitamin C levels and increased photosynthetic activity.

"There seems to be multiple benefits of increasing the level of vitamin C in plants, including improving their tolerance to smog, improving photosynthesis, and improving their nutritional quality but more research is clearly needed," he said.

The key question, at least in the near term, is to determine whether increased vitamin C and photosynthesis will result in greater crop yields, he added.


Contact: Ricardo Duran
University of California - Riverside

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