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Chronic tropospheric ozone exposure reduces seed yield and quality in spring and winter oilseed rape

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Article number108859
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Number of pages9
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/02/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) is cultivated worldwide, producing 11.5% of global oilseeds at an economic value of 38 billion USD in 2020. It is sensitive to phytotoxic damage from exposure to tropospheric ozone (O3), a major air pollutant, which disrupts plant physiological processes and thus decreases biomass accumulation. As background ozone concentrations continue to increase globally, we investigated the impact of ozone exposure on seed and oil yield of a shorter-lived spring (cv. Click) and a longer-lived winter (cv. Phoenix) oilseed rape cultivar to ozone levels (treatments with peaks of 30, 55, 80, 110 ppbv) representative of typical European conditions where these cultivars are common. Thousand Seed Weight (TSW), an important measure of final yield, decreased more in Phoenix (40%) than Click (20%) with increasing ozone exposure. Click produced more racemes and many small seeds while Phoenix produced fewer racemes and larger seeds. However, seed quality declined more substantially in Click than Phoenix. The oil content in Click’s seed significantly decreased with increased ozone exposure, while less desirable components (moisture, chlorophyll, ash) increased. Scaled to field-level, our findings imply substantial economic penalties for growers, with potential losses of 175 to 325 USD ha-1 in Click and 500 to 665 USD ha-1 in Phoenix under ozone concentrations typical of spring and summer periods in Europe. Decreased total yield would likely outweigh the benefits of any improvement in animal oilseed cake quality (increased protein and key micronutrients for livestock feed). Neither cultivar sustained visible injury at earlier growth stages, and Phoenix sustained photosynthesis even under high exposure, thereby making ozone an invisible threat. Our findings of reduced oilseed quantity and quality threaten oilseed rape production, but differences between the cultivars may also offer an opportunity for breeders and agronomists to identify and exploit variation in ozone tolerance in oilseed rape.