In this review the main growth responses of Finnish birch (Betula pendula, B. pubescens) and aspen species (Populus tremula and P. tremuloides × P. tremula) are correlated with ozone exposure, indicated as the AOT40 value. Data are derived from 23 different laboratory, open-top chamber, and free-air fumigation experiments. Our results indicate that these tree species are sensitive to increasing ozone concentrations, though high intraspecific variation exists. The roots are the most vulnerable targets in both genera. These growth reductions, determined from trees grown under optimal nutrient and water supply, were generally accompanied by increased visible foliar injuries, carbon allocation toward defensive compounds, reduced carbohydrate contents of leaves, impaired photosynthesis processes, disturbances in stomatal function, and earlier autumn senescence. Because both genera have shown complex ozone defense and response mechanisms, which are modified by variable environmental conditions, a mechanistically based approach is necessary for accurate ozone risk assessment.
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Vol. 38 • No. 8