Global warming could make world more ‘fragrant’

February 10th, 2010 - 2:44 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 10 (ANI): A major scientific review has indicated that as a result of climate change, the world will become more ‘fragrant’.

As CO2 levels increase and the world warms, land use, precipitation and the availability of water will also change.

According to BBC News, in response to all these disruptions, plants will emit greater levels of fragrant chemicals called biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs).

That will then alter how plants interact with one another and defend themselves against pests, according to a major scientific review.

The world may already be becoming more fragrant, as plants have already begun emitting more smelly chemicals, according to the scientists leading the review.

“The increase is exponential,” said Professor Josep Penuelas, of the Global Ecology Unit at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

“It may have increased already by 10 percent in the past 30 years and may increase 30 to 40 percent with the two to three degrees (Celsius) warming projected for the next decades,” he added.

BVOCs are routinely emitted by plants into the atmosphere.

All play vital roles in helping plants grow and metabolise, communicate with one another and reproduce, and protect or defend themselves from herbivores such as browsing mammals or insect pests.

But plants emit different levels of such compounds depending on environmental conditions.

While significant research has been done to assess the impact of global warming on further CO2 exchange in the atmosphere, little focus has been given to how changing temperatures will alter emissions of important compounds such as BVOCs.

So, Professor Penuelas and Dr Michael Staudt of the Centre for Functional Ecology and Evolution in Montpellier, France, conducted a major review of how climate change will alter the expression of these compounds.

“Based upon the work reviewed, we can be reasonably sure that climate and global change in general will have an impact on BVOC emissions,” they said.

“The most likely overall impact is an increase in BVOC emissions mostly driven by current warming, and that the altered emissions will affect their physiological and ecological functions and their environmental role,” they added.

In particular, they said that higher temperatures will cause plants to produce more BVOCs, and also lengthen the growing season of many species, further adding to the BVOCs produced.

By enhancing the activity of BVOC synthesising enzymes, and making it easier for such compounds to diffuse into the air, rising temperatures will cause a sharp, exponential increase in BVOCs. (ANI)

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