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Environ Pollut. 1992;77(1):7-14.

Effects of air filtration on spring wheat grown in open-top field chambers at a rural site. II. Effects on mineral partitioning, sulphur and nitrogen metabolism and on grain quality.

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Instituut voor Scheikundig Onderzoek, Leuvensesteenweg 17, B-3080 Tervuren, Belgium.


In 1988 the effect of ambient levels of air pollutants on the nutrients status and grain quality of spring wheat (Triticum aestivum cv. Pelican) was investigated by comparing plants grown in open-top chambers (OTC) ventilated with ambient air (NF treatments) and charcoal-filtered air (CF treatments) at a rural site (Tervuren, Belgium). Spring wheat cultivated in NF OTC showed only minor differences in the P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn and Na concentrations of the different plant parts at final harvest, as well as organic and inorganic S fractions, compared to those of the plants grown in CF air. The plants' total P content was reduced, as well as the P and K concentration of the flour. The total S concentration of the flour was increased by 4%. Effects on N concentrations and grain quality were much more pronounced. At final harvest the N concentrations of straw and flour of the NF air treated plants were much higher compared to CF air. However, the N content of the aerial biomass and the grain N yield were not significantly affected, implying a reduction of other structual compounds. Nitrogen harvest index (NHI) and the ratio of NHI over grain harvest index (GHI), indicated a significant reduction of N translocation from the above-ground biomass to the grain. Changes in the N status and partitioning of spring wheat had an effect on the baking quality of wheat flour. Several parameters that are commonly used as an indication of baking quality have been significantly increased in the NF treatment: total protein concentration, Zeleny value, dry and wet gluten concentration. A slightly increased Hagberg value indicated a reduced alpha-amylase activity. The possibility of foliar N uptake as an additional N source, especially after anthesis and implications of increased protein production instead of carbohydrate synthesis are discussed.

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