, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 2628-2641
Date: 11 Oct 2013

Assessment of growth and yield losses in two Zea mays L. cultivars (quality protein maize and nonquality protein maize) under projected levels of ozone

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Rapid industrialization and economic developments have increased the tropospheric ozone (O3) budget since preindustrial times, and presently, it is supposed to be a major threat to crop productivity. Maize (Zea mays L.), a C4 plant is the third most important staple crop at global level with a great deal of economic importance. The present study was conducted to evaluate the performance of two maize cultivars [HQPM1: quality protein maize (QPM)] and [DHM117: nonquality protein maize (NQPM)] to variable O3 doses. Experimental setup included filtered chambers, nonfiltered chambers (NFC), and two elevated doses of O3 viz. NFC+15 ppb O3 (NFC+15) and NFC+30 ppb O3 (NFC+30). During initial growth period, both QPM and NQPM plants showed hormetic effect that is beneficial due to exposure of low doses of a toxicant (NFC and NFC+15 ppb O3), but at later stages, growth attributes were negatively affected by O3. Growth indices showed the variable pattern of photosynthate translocation under O3 stress. Foliar injury in the form of interveinal chlorosis and reddening of leaves due to increased production of anthocyanin pigments was observed at higher concentrations of O3. One-dimensional gel electrophoresis of leaves taken from NFC+30 showed reductions of major photosynthetic proteins, and differential response was observed between the two test cultivars. Decline in the number of male flowers at elevated O3 doses suggested damaging effect of O3 on reproductive structures which might be a cause of productivity losses. Variable carbon allocation pattern particularly to husk leaves, foliar injury, and damage of photosynthetic proteins led to significant reductions in economic yield at higher O3 doses. PCA showed that both the cultivars responded more or less similarly to O3 stress in their respective groupings of growth and yield parameters, but magnitude of their response was variable. It is further supported by difference in the significance of correlations between variables of yield and AOT40. Cultivar response reflects that QPM performed better than NQPM against elevated O3.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues