Nitrous acid production and uptake by Zea mays plants in growth chambers in the presence of nitrogen dioxide


  • Marion Aurélie
  • Morin Julien
  • Ormeño Elena
  • Dupouyet Sylvie
  • d'Anna Barbara
  • Boiry Séverine
  • Wortham Henri


  • HONO
  • Sources
  • Sinks
  • Water-stress
  • Plant-atmosphere exchanges

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Nitrous acid (HONO) photolysis is an important atmospheric reaction that leads to the formation of hydroxyl radicals (OH), the main diurnal atmospheric oxidants. The process of HONO formation remains unclear, and comparisons between field measurements and model results have highlighted the presence of unknown HONO sources. HONO production on plant surfaces was recently suggested to contribute to atmospheric HONO formation, but there is limited information on the quantification of HONO production and uptake by plants. To address this gap in the existing knowledge, the current study investigated HONO exchange on living Zea mays plants. Experiments were conducted in growth chambers under controlled experimental conditions (temperature, relative humidity, NO2 mixing ratio, light intensity, CO2 mixing ratio) at temperatures ranging between 283 and 299 K. To investigate the effect of drought on HONO plant-atmosphere exchanges, experiments were carried out on two sets of Zea mays plants exposed to two different water supply conditions during their growth: optimal watering (70% of the field capacity) and water stress (30% of the field capacity). Results indicated that the uptake of HONO by control Zea mays plants increased linearly with ambient temperature, and was correlated with CO2 assimilation for temperatures ranging from 283 to 299 K. At 299 K, HONO production on the leaves offset this uptake and Zea mays plants were a source of HONO, with a net production rate of 27 ± 7 ppt h-1. Deposition velocities were higher for HONO than CO2, suggesting a higher mesophyll resistance for CO2 than HONO. As water stress reduced the stomatal opening, it also decreased plant-atmosphere gas exchange. Thus, climate change, which may limit the availability of water, will have an impact on HONO exchange between plants and the atmosphere.

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