O3 impacts on plant development: a meta-analysis of root/shoot allocation and growth

Plant Cell Environ. 2006 Jul;29(7):1193-209. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2006.01521.x.


The mechanism of O3 action on plants remains poorly characterized. Symptoms include visible lesions on the leaf surface, reduced growth and a hypothesized reduction in allocation of carbohydrate to roots. The generality of this latter phenomenon has not been demonstrated. Here, a meta-analysis is performed of all available experimental data, to test the hypotheses that O3 exposure of the shoot inhibits biomass allocation below ground (the root/shoot allometric coefficient, k) and inhibits whole-plant growth rate [relative growth rate (RGR)]. Both k and RGR were significantly reduced by O3 (5.6 and 8.2%, respectively). Variability in k was greater than in RGR, and both exhibited some positive as well as mostly negative responses. The effects on k were distinct from the effects on RGR. In some cases, k was reduced while RGR was unaffected. Slow-growing plants (small RGR) exhibited the largest declines in k. These observations may have mechanistic implications regarding O3 phytotoxicity. There were no effects of type of exposure chamber on sensitivity to O3. The analyses indicate that the O3 inhibition of allocation to roots is real and general, but variable. Further experiments are needed for under-represented plant groups, to characterize exceptions to this generalization and to evaluate O3--environment interactions.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure
  • Ozone / toxicity*
  • Plant Roots / drug effects*
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Plant Shoots / drug effects*
  • Plant Shoots / growth & development
  • Plant Shoots / physiology


  • Ozone