Photosynthesis, chlorophyll integrity, and spectral reflectance in lichens exposed to air pollution

J. Garty*, O. Tamir, I. Hassid, A. Eshel, Y. Cohen, A. Karnieli, L. Orlovsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The major objective of the present study was to identify the relationship of physiological parameters of the photosynthetic system with the elemental content of the lichen Ramalina lacera (With.) J.R. Laund. Thalli of R. lacera were collected in an unpolluted site and transplanted in a national park and an industrial region in Israel for 8 mo. Analyses of photosynthetic activity, chlorophyll integrity, spectral reflectance, and amount of 11 metals were performed after this period of exposure. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), indicative of the spectral reflectance response of the thallus, correlated with photosynthetic rate and chlorophyll and K content and correlated inversely with amounts of Ba, Cr, Cu, and Ni. The NDVI appears to enable the detection of early signs of pollutant-induced stress before changes in other physiological parameters become apparent. Elevated amounts of Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn in lichens transplanted to an industrial area and the correlation of Mn and Ni, Mn and V, Ni and V, Fe and Mn, Fe and V, and Fe and Zn point for the greater part to metal processing in a steel smelter. Correlations of Cr and Ni, Cu and Ni, Zn and Cu, Cu and Mn, and Zn and Ni could be related to metal processing in the industrial area but indicate also vehicular activity as a possible originator.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-893
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


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