Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The contribution of particulate matter to forest decline

19.06.2013
Air pollution is related to forest decline and also appears to attack the protecting wax on tree leaves and needles.

Bonn University scientists have now discovered a responsible mechanism: particulate matter salt compounds that become deliquescent because of humidity and form a wick-like structure that removes water from leaves and promotes dehydration. These results are published in “Environmental Pollution”.

Nature conservationists call it “lingering illness”, and the latest report on the North-Rhine Westphalian forest conditions confirms ongoing damage. Bonn University scientists have now shown that salt deposits on leaves may decrease the drought tolerance of trees, thereby contributing to forest decline. “Our study reveals that so-called wax degradation on pine needles may develop from deposited particulate matter”, says Dr. Jürgen Burkhardt from the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation. Wax helps to protect leaves and needles from water loss.

It has long been known that air pollutants accelerate wax ageing and that “wax degradation” is closely related to forest damage. “Wax degradation was addressed by many studies in the 1980s and 90s, but sound explanations for both the degradation mechanism and the high correlation with forest damage have yet been missing”, Dr. Burkhardt reports. Previous approaches assumed chemical reactions for wax degradation, whereas the present study reveals physical reasons. “The deposition of hygroscopic salts is capable of decreasing the drought tolerance of trees”, co-author Shyam Pariyar says.
Accelerated dehydration of needles treated with salt solutions

The scientists sprayed salt solutions on Scots pine needles and recorded their weight loss after abscission. The needles treated with salt solutions dried out significantly faster than the untreated control needles. Using an electron microscope, the scientists observed the salts becoming deliquescent and moving into the stomata of the needles. Stomata are tiny pores used by plants to take up carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and release water vapor and oxygen. The deliquescent salts form very thin liquid connections between the surface and interior of the needle, and water is removed from the needles by these wick-like structures. Because the plants are unable to counteract this removal of water, the plants dehydrate more rapidly. Therefore, polluted air containing large amounts of particulate matter may directly reduce the drought tolerance of trees. Simultaneously, the deliquescent salts make wax appear “degraded”. “This newly described mechanism was not considered in earlier explanations of Central European forest decline”, states Dr. Burkhardt.

Conceivable aggravation of forest decline by climate change

A new type of electron microscope enabled the observation of particle deliquescence and dynamics under changing air humidity. In addition, a long-lasting scientific paradigm had excluded any aqueous movement into the stomata, and only recently had Bonn University scientists confirmed its existence (http://www3.uni-bonn.de/Pressemitteilungen/227-2012).

Recently, regional forest damage has been reported in the western USA and other parts of the world. A relationship with increasing climate change-type drought has been proposed, but the newly discovered mechanism involving particulate matter might contribute to the regional forest damage. “Particularly because air concentrations of hygroscopic particles have largely increased within the last decades”, says Dr. Burkhardt.

The study was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the European Union (project ÉCLAIRE).

Publication: Particulate pollutants are capable to `degrade´ epicuticular waxes and to decrease the drought tolerance of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), “Environmental Pollution”, DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.04.041
Contact:

Dr. Jürgen Burkhardt
University of Bonn
Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation
Plant Nutrition Group
Phone. +49 228 732186
E-Mail: j.burkhardt@uni-bonn.de

Johannes Seiler | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>