The potential of biomonitoring of air quality using leaf characteristics of white willow (Salix alba L.)
In this study, we assess the potential of white willow (Salix alba L.) as bioindicator for monitoring of air quality. Therefore, shoot biomass, specific leaf area, stomatal density, stomatal pore surface, and stomatal resistance were assessed from leaves of stem cuttings. The stem cuttings were introduced in two regions in Belgium with a relatively high and a relatively low level of air pollution, i.e., Antwerp city and Zoersel, respectively. In each of these regions, nine sampling points were selected. At each sampling point, three stem cuttings of white willow were planted in potting soil. Shoot biomass and specific leaf area were not significantly different between Antwerp city and Zoersel. Microclimatic differences between the sampling points may have been more important to plant growth than differences in air quality. However, stomatal pore surface and stomatal resistance of white willow were significantly different between Zoersel and Antwerp city. Stomatal pore surface was 20% lower in Antwerp city due to a significant reduction in both stomatal length (−11%) and stomatal width (−14%). Stomatal resistance at the adaxial leaf surface was 17% higher in Antwerp city because of the reduction in stomatal pore surface. Based on these results, we conclude that stomatal characteristics of white willow are potentially useful indicators for air quality.
KeywordsActive biomonitoring Air pollution White willow Stomatal characteristics
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