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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Ozone Biomonitoring Project

Biomonitoring plants are used to demonstrate and understand how ozone and other air pollutants affect plant appearance, growth and yield.  Biomonitoring plants developed by the USDA-ARS Plant Science Research group include ozone-sensitive and ozone-resistant clover clones and snap bean lines.  Examples of projects involving snap bean include multi-site ozone-environment modeling studies, physiological studies, and educational activities. 

Effect of ambient ozone on field-grown ozone-sensitive (S156, left) and ozone-resistant (R331, right) snap bean lines.

Ozone injury on sensitive (S156, left) and resistant (R123, right) snap bean plants treated in chambers in the Phytotron.

Ambient ozone injury on an ozone-sensitive (S156) snap bean leaf.

Ozone treatment chambers used in controlled-environment studies.

Background of snap bean development

The ozone-sensitive and ozone-tolerant snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) lines were originally derived from a cross between Wade Bush (ozone-tolerant) and Oregon 91 (ozone-sensitive) (Reinert and Eason 2000).  Progeny were screened in ambient-air field studies and ozone sensitivity was found to be a dominant genetic trait.  Screening of selfed generations allowed selections of extremes in ozone sensitivity (KO Burkey, pers. comm.).

Sensitive line - S156;  Resistant lines - R123, R331

Ozone-sensitive (S156) and ozone-tolerant (R123) snap beans
following exposure to ambient ozone in Phytotron chambers for 20 days.

Reinert, RA and G Eason. 2000. Genetic control of ozone sensitivity in a cross between two cultivars of snap bean.  J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 125:222-227.


Yield-environment modeling project

We are conducting a multi-state (MD, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OR, PA) project that examines how environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and light affect crop responses to ambient ozone. This study utilizes ozone-sensitive and ozone-tolerant snap bean cultivars grown under field conditions. The study employs common experimental protocols and crop management practices among sites.  Hourly measurments of air temperature, relative humidity, sunlight, wind speed and ozone concentrations will be used in multiple regression models to predict how environmental factors influence plant growth and yield.   

Ozone-sensitive (S156, left) and ozone-tolerant (R331, right) snap beans after growth for 57 days at Rutgers University in New Jersey.


Preliminary yield results of the multi-site snap bean project.


Laboratory class exercise - Air pollutant ozone and its effects on plants

This laboratory covers how ozone is formed in the atmosphere and how it affects crop plants.  Students learn to recognize visible ozone injury and measure ozone effects on photosynthesis, biomass production and yield using the ozone-sensitive and ozone-resistant bean lines.  Students then construct a data set from their observations and write a laboratory report.

Results from laboratories conducted for five classes over the past four years are shown below. 


Chambers used to treat snap bean plants with ozone in the Phytotron.

Plants are grown in the greenhouse for one month to establish healthy plants ready for ozone exposure treatments.

Guided by experienced instructors, students use gas-exchange measuring instruments to determine ozone treatment effects on snap bean plants.


Snap bean publications

Booker FL, Muntifering R, McGrath MT, Burkey KO, Decoteau DR, Fiscus EL, Manning W, Krupa SV, Chappelka A, Grantz DA. 2009. The ozone component of global change: Potential effects on agricultural and horticultural plant yield, product quality and interactions with invasive species. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 51:337-351.

Albertine, JM and Manning, WJ. 2009. Elevated night soil temperatures result in earlier incidence and increased extent of foliar ozone injury to common bean Phaseolus vulgaris. Environmental Pollution 157:711-713.

Flowers, MD, Fiscus, EL, Burkey, KO, Booker, FL, Dubois, JJB. 2007. Photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, and yield of snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) genotypes differing in sensitivity to ozone. Environmental and Experimental Botany 61:190-198.

Grulke NE, Paoletti, E , Heath RL. 2007. Comparison of calculated and measured foliar ozone flux in crop and forest species. Environmental Pollution 146:640-647.

Elagoz, V, Han, SS, Manning, WJ. 2006. Acquired changes in stomatal characteristics in response to ozone during plant growth and leaf development of bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) indicate phenotypic plasticity. Environmental Pollution 140:395-405.

Elagoz, V, Manning, WJ. 2005. Responses of sensitive and tolerant bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) to ozone in open-top chambers are influenced by phenotypic differences, morphological characteristics, and the chamber environment. Environmental Pollution 136:371-383.

Elagoz, V, Manning, WJ. 2005. Factors affecting the effects of EDU on growth and yield of field-grown bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), with varying degrees of sensitivity to ozone. Environmental Pollution 136:385-395.

Burkey, KO, Miller, JE, Fiscus, EL. 2005. Assessment of ambient ozone effects on vegetation using snap bean as a bioindicator species. Journal of Environmental Quality 34:1081-1086.

Burkey, KO, Eason, G, Fiscus, EL. 2003. Factors that affect leaf extracellular ascorbic acid content and redox status. Physiologia Plantarum 117:51-57.

Heagle, AS, Miller, JE, Burkey, KO, Eason, G, Pursley, WA. 2002. Growth and yield responses of snap bean to mixtures of carbon dioxide and ozone. Journal of Environmental Quality 31: 2008-2014.

Reinert, RA and Eason, G. 2000. Genetic control of ozone sensitivity in a cross between two cultivars of snap bean. Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science 125:222-227.

Last Modified: 7/8/2010