Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Invasive kudzu is major factor in surface ozone pollution, study shows

Date:
May 18, 2010
Source:
University of Virginia
Summary:
Kudzu, an invasive vine that is spreading across the southeastern United States and northward, is a major contributor to large-scale increases of the pollutant surface ozone, according to a new study.

Kudzu, sometimes called the vine that ate the Southeastern USA, growing over an abandoned car and truck in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This invasive vine when left unchecked will cover anything that isn't moving.
Credit: iStockphoto/Roel Smart

Kudzu, an invasive vine that is spreading across the southeastern United States and northward, is a major contributor to large-scale increases of the pollutant surface ozone, according to a study published the week of May 17 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kudzu, a leafy vine native to Japan and southeastern China, produces the chemicals isoprene and nitric oxide, which, when combined with nitrogen in the air, form ozone, an air pollutant that causes significant health problems for humans. Ozone also hinders the growth of many kinds of plants, including crop vegetation.

"We found that this chemical reaction caused by kudzu leads to about a 50 percent increase in the number of days each year in which ozone levels exceed what the Environmental Protection Agency deems as unhealthy," said study co-author Manuel Lerdau, a University of Virginia professor of environmental sciences and biology. "This increase in ozone completely overcomes the reductions in ozone realized from automobile pollution control legislation."

Lerdau and his former graduate student, lead author Jonathan Hickman -- now a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University -- used field studies at three sites in Georgia to determine the gas production of kudzu. They then worked with Shiliang Wu and Loretta Mickley, atmospheric scientists at Harvard University, who used atmospheric chemistry computer models to evaluate the potential 50-year effect of kudzu invasion on regional air quality.

"Essentially what we found is that this biological invasion has the capacity to degrade air quality, and in all likelihood over time lead to increases in air pollution, increases in health problems caused by that air pollution, and decreases in agricultural productivity," Lerdau said.

"This is yet another compelling reason to begin seriously combating this biological invasion. What was once considered a nuisance, and primarily of concern to ecologists and farmers, is now proving to be a potentially serious health threat."

Ozone acts as an irritant to the eyes, nose and throat, and can damage the lungs, sometimes causing asthma or worsening asthma symptoms. It also is a mutagen and can cause lung cancer.

Ozone, while essential to the health of the Earth in the upper atmosphere where it shields the surface from excess ultraviolet radiation, is hazardous to human health when it forms at the earth's surface. This occurs most often in the summertime as plants grow and produce chemicals that react with the air.

Introduced to the United States in the late 19th century, kudzu, with its unique nitrogen-fixing physiology, allows a rapid, nearly uninhibited rate of growth, about three times the rate of trees and other vegetation. The vine was cultivated more extensively in the 1920s and 1930s as a control for soil erosion and rapidly became known as "the vine that ate the South."

In recent, milder winters, Kudzu has expanded its range northward into Pennsylvania and New York.

"What was once a Southern problem is now becoming an East Coast issue," Lerdau said.

Various strategies are used for controlling and eradicating kudzu, including livestock grazing, burning, mowing and herbicides.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Virginia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan E. Hickman, Shiliang Wu, Loretta J. Mickley, and Manuel T. Lerdau. Kudzu (Pueraria montana) invasion doubles emissions of nitric oxide and increases ozone pollution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0912279107

Cite This Page:

University of Virginia. "Invasive kudzu is major factor in surface ozone pollution, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517172302.htm>.
University of Virginia. (2010, May 18). Invasive kudzu is major factor in surface ozone pollution, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517172302.htm
University of Virginia. "Invasive kudzu is major factor in surface ozone pollution, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517172302.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins