Air pollution may decrease tree drought tolerance

By on June 26, 2013
Pine trees on a hillside (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A new report by researchers at Bonn University in Germany has shown that salt deposits from air pollution on tree leaves may hasten forest decline by decreasing the drought tolerance of trees, the university has reported.

Researchers studied trees in the North-Rhine Westphalia region of Germany and found that salt deposits degrade the wax coating on the forests’ pine needles. The wax accumulation is essential for preventing water loss in trees’ leaves and needles.

To test their theory, researchers sprayed salt solutions on trees in the experimental group, while leaving the control group’s trees untouched. The trees sprayed with the salt solution dried out and lost weight significantly faster.

The study could be beneficial in helping to understand how air pollution containing particulate matter might affect trees worldwide.

Image: Pine trees on a hillside (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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