Biologists have discovered that the air pollutant nitric oxide acts as a plant hormone to delay flowering in plants. The scientists discovered that while plants produce their own internal nitric oxide to regulate flowering, they are also influenced by external concentrations of the chemical.
The scientists said that although their findings are basic in nature, they suggest that the massive amounts of nitric oxide emitted as air pollutants from burning fossil fuels could affect the critical process of plant flowering. Since the decision to flower is so critical to reproduction, a delay in flowering could have important impacts on ecosystems, both plant and animal, they said.
The researchers, led by Duke University biologist Zhen-Ming Pei, published their findings in the Sept. 24, 2004, issue of the journal Science. Co-lead authors were Yikun He and Ru-Hang Tang from Duke. Other co-authors were Yi Hao, Robert Stevens, Charles Cook, Sun Ahn, Liufang Jing, Zhongguang Yang, Longen Chen, Fabio Fiorani and Robert Jackson, all of Duke; and Fangqing Guo and Nigel Crawford from the University of California at San Diego. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and Duke University.
Dennis Meredith | EurekAlert!
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