, Volume 16, Issue 3-4, pp 361-365

Pollen viability as a bio-indicator of air quality

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Many air pollutants cause plant deterioration. In this study pollen viability was used as bio-indicator of air quality. The study was carried out in the city of Perugia where road traffic is the most important cause of air pollution.

Three areas, with different intensity of road traffic (very high, medium and absent) but all characterized by the presence of the same plant species, were selected.

Eight species were studied: Hedera helix L., Convolvulus sepium L., Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers., Quercus ilex L., Dactylis glomerata L., Parietaria diffusa M. et K., Daucus carota L. and Tilia cordata Miller. The pollen of these species was treated with TTC (2, 3, 5 Tryphenil-Tetrazolium-Chloride) staining solution and viability was then estimated by light microscopy. The results showed that the pollen viability was inversely proportioned with pollution. The highest difference in pollen viability between the areas was registered in Tilia cordata. Quercus ilex instead showed that there was no difference in pollen viability between the three different areas. Parietaria diffusa showed a particular behaviour; the highest pollen viability percentage was in polluted areas.

The statistical analysis (ANOVA) showed that the main source of variability of the pollen viability depends on the plant but also the site and the interaction between plant and site were very important with a high significant level (p < 0.0001).