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Affect Of Gaseous Ammonia And Oxides Of Nitrogen On Plant Growth.

1635 words - 7 pages

Full title:Gaseous ammonia and oxides of nitrogen can lead to both a stimulation and a reduction in plant growth. Using examples of effects at both the cellular and whole plant level, discuss the relative merits/disadvantages of life in a polluted environment.Introduction:Major sources for ammonia (NH3) emissions are connected with areas of intensive agriculture and high rates of fertilizer manufacture and application. Fertiliser is often applied as ammonium or urea.During combustion, the primary oxide of N formed is nitrogen monoxide or nitric oxide (NO), only a little of which comes from N in the fuel. The majority of the NO is generated from the direct combination of atmospheric O and N within the flames (Palmer & Seery,1973). NO is a free radical and readily reacts with other molecules to lose or gain an electron. Hence, the effects of NO are generally localised to an area close where it was generated.Oxidation of NO by O2 yields nitrogen dioxide but this reaction occurs very slowly at low concentrations of NO. Oxidation of NO by ozone, however, occurs rapidly even at very low concentrations (Willix, 1976)*. This, therefore, is regarded as the main mechanism of generation of atmospheric NO2. Other pollutants such as hydrocarbons and SO2 can also react with NO2 but the relative importance of these reactions is dependent upon other environmental conditions (Willix, 1976)*.The effects of ammonia and oxides of nitrogen:Three major types of deposition of ammonia and oxides of nitrogen can occur: as a gas, in aqueous form as the ammonium ion or as an aerosol water droplet. Short term exposures to NO2 do not usually cause depressions of growth but, at high concentrations, visible leaf injury may occur. In the short term (less than 24 hours) and at very low levels of oxides of N, beneficial effects have been observed.Oxides of nitrogen often restrict the growth of plants. Initially, this often comes as a surprise to those familiar with the benefits to plant growth of N-containing nutrients such as nitrate and ammonium ions. The reason for this phytotoxicity are complex and they are still not fully understood. In part they are associated with the direct toxic effects of the gases themselves. However, they may also give rise to additional acidity and do not often occur naturally in the atmosphere alone but in combination with gases such as SO2 and O3.Serious dieback of forests and decline in number of plant species are observed in areas of the Netherlands where intensive animal breeding is concentrated. Evidence is accumulating that the high emission of ammonia is one of the major causes for the observed effects. However, little is known about the physiological effects of atmospheric ammonia on plants (Van Hove et al, 1989)*.Detrimental effects are due to NO rather than NO2 (Wellburn, 1990). Evidence supporting this hypothesis is in the form of studies of crop growth in propane-heated CO2 enriched glasshouses. Poor crop growth has been ascribed to...

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