, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 439-451

Possible mechanisms for the inhibition of photosynthesis by ozone

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Tropospheric ozone produced by industrial civilization is widespread. Although the levels are not clearly life threatening, they do have the potential to inhibit normal plant productivity, thought to be by an inhibition of photosynthesis. While the mechanism for this inhibition is not yet clear, there are several hypotheses for its cause. It is unlikely that ozone can penetrate the cell membrane unreacted; therefore, reactions at the plasma membrane either causing general ionic and metabolic disturbance within the cell or causing the production of unidentified toxic products must ultimately produce the alterations within the chloroplasts. While model systems, such as individual biochemicals, isolated chloroplasts, and algae, can give some understanding of possible reactions, they cannot provide the full story. One continuing controversy revolves about the role of stomata in the inhibition process-they play an important role, but the full interaction between stomatal closure and inhibition of photosynthesis has not yet emerged. In order to reach a political compromise on air quality standards, we need to have a good understanding of the fundamental mechanisms by which ozone causes any decline in plant productivity.