Ground-level ozone is a subtle threat to biodiversity

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As we all know, long-term exposure to high concentrations of ozone can pose a serious threat to human health, aggravate heart and lung problems such as asthma and emphysema, and cause a decrease in birth weight. A study It is found that more than 1 million premature deaths worldwide are caused by high concentrations of ozone each year.

Studies have also shown that crops and forests will be destroyed or killed directly or indirectly by ozone, because ozone makes them more susceptible to insects, diseases and drought. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, ozone damages plants more than all other air pollutants combined. This gas is expected to cause a significant drop in global food production.The nearest one Learn It is predicted that by 2050, due to rising temperatures and ozone, wheat production will drop by 13%, soybean production will drop by 28%, and corn production will drop by 43%.

Although it is obvious that ozone can cause damage to all living organisms, it is only recently that research has begun to pay attention to its impact on biodiversity. However, scientists believe that the impact is huge. This month, the International Federation of Forest Research Organizations, a global network of scientists, is hosting a conference called “Air Pollution Threats to Plant Ecosystems.” Ozone is at the top of the list.

in a Paper In a paper published last year, 20 European and Asian researchers, including Agathakleous, simulated the possible impact of ozone pollution on the ecosystem in the coming decades. They concluded that ozone will “influence the composition and diversity of plant communities by affecting key physiological characteristics” and may lead to a series of changes, thereby reducing biodiversity. In their paper, the researchers urged officials to consider ozone in their efforts to protect and restore biodiversity, and stated that its impact should be included in the assessment of air pollution and climate change.

Studies have shown that ozone affects plants in many ways.

“It paralyzes the stomata of plants,” said Howard Newfield, a plant ecologist at Appalachian State University. “So they release more water than they take in.” Stomas are tiny openings on the surface of leaves. Here the gas is exchanged with the atmosphere. Ozone can damage them and interfere with various processes, including photosynthesis.

Ozone can also damage the leaves and accelerate their senescence. “When the leaves are injured, photosynthesis declines; plants produce fewer sugars and fewer resources,” Newfield said. “It also affects the movement of sugar to the roots, thereby reducing root growth and making them more susceptible to drought, nutrient deficiencies and diseases.”

Ozone destruction can also change the time of leaf fall and reduce leaf size, reduce the amount of litter and affect the microbial communities that thrive in decomposing leaves. Microorganisms in litter and soil are essential for absorbing nutrients, helping trees fight disease and effectively using water.

The impact of ozone on the soil also affects the rhizosphere-the root system and its related microorganisms, fungi and other organisms. “When plants respond to ozone, they consume energy,” Agathokleous said. “When they use so much energy, the energy provided to the organisms in the soil will be reduced, and the chemical composition will also be affected.” Undernourished leaves can also affect the life cycle of the animals that feed on them.



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