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Environ Monit Assess. 2005 Jun;105(1-3):419-30.

Foliar phenolics in sugar maple (Acer saccharum) as a potential indicator of tropospheric ozone pollution.

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  • 1Environmental and Resource Studies Program, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


Tropospheric O3 has been implicated in the declining health of forest ecosystems in Europe and North America and has been shown to have negative consequences on human health. We have measured tropospheric ozone (O3) in the lower canopy through the use of passive monitors located in five woodlots along a 150 km urban-rural transect, originating in the large urban complex of Toronto, Canada. We also sampled foliage from 10 mature sugar maple trees in each woodlot and measured the concentration of a number of phenolic compounds and macronutrients. O3 concentrations were highest in the two rural woodlots, located approximately 150 km downwind of Toronto, when compared to the woodlots found within the Greater Toronto Area. Foliar concentrations of three flavonoids, avicularin, isoquercitrin, and quercitrin, were significantly greater and nitrogen concentrations significantly lower at these same rural woodlots, suggesting some physiological disruption is occurring in those sites where exposure to tropospheric O3 is greater. We suggest that foliar phenolics of sugar maple may be a biochemical indicator of tropospheric ozone exposure.

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