Atmospheric nitrogen dioxide at ambient levels stimulates growth and development of horticultural plants

Suaad E.H. Adam, Jun Shigeto, Atsushi Sakamoto, Misa Takahashi, Hiromichi Morikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We recently discovered that atmospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at ambient levels acts as a signal to Nicotiana plumbaginifolia Viviani, causing these plants to double both their biomass and all of the cell contents. Herein, we addressed whether this effect of NO2 is also observed in various horticultural plants. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), and pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata Duch. ex Lam.) were grown with 50, 200, 100, and 200 μL-L-1, respectively, of air supplemented with stable isotope-labelled (15N) NO 2, for 5-6 weeks. Control plants were grown without NO2 (<5 μL-L-1). All plants were irrigated with nonlabelled nitrate. The presence of NO2 doubled both the aboveground and belowground biomass in sunflowers compared with their growth in the absence of NO2, whereas lettuce, cucumber, and pumpkin doubled in aboveground biomass only. Contents per shoot of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) were almost doubled during the "NO2-enhanced" growth in lettuce, but not in other plants. Mass spectrometry analysis of 15N/14N indicated that only a minor proportion (0.2%-14%) of total plant N was derived from NO2, implying that exogenous NO2 acts as a signal rather than a significant nutrient source in horticultural plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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