Evaluation of air pollution phytotoxicity downwind of a phosphate fertilizer factory in India
The effects of air pollution on plants downwind of a fertilizer factory at Udaipur, India, were studied using three woody perennials. Seedlings of these species including a shrub (Carissa carandas L.), a leguminous avenue tree (Cassia fistula L.) and a fruit tree (Psidium guajava L.) were grown in earthen pots at different study sites receiving varying levels of air pollution input. Changes in plant growth, morphological characteristics, photosynthetic pigment, ascorbic acid, N and S contents and in dry matter allocation were considered in relation to the status of ambient air quality. Observations with these parameters have indicated that the ambient air around the factory contained pollutants at phytotoxic levels. Plant height, basal diameter, conopy area, leaf area and chlorophyll, ascorbic acid and foliar-N concentrations decreased with increasing pollution load. However, foliar-S increased slightly at polluted sites. Air pollution load around the factory have also altered the biomass allocation. Root:shoot ratios increased in C. fistula and P. guajava at polluted sites. In contrast, for C. carandas the above ground parts, where foliage assumed predominance showed precedence over the root growth. This species responded characteristically to air pollution stress by allocating more of its photosynthate towards leaf production and shoot growth.