Nutritional status of pollen and needles of diverse Pinus sylvestris populations grown at sites with contrasting pollution

J. Oleksyn, P. B. Reich, P. Karolewski, M. G. Tjoelker, W. Chalupka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Pollen may serve as a biological indicator for air pollution stress in plants. However, knowledge of pollen mineral composition and its relationship to environmental and genetic factors is very limited. We studied the concentrations of macro- and micronutrients in pollen and needles for seven European Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) populations grown in two 15-yr-old provenance plantations with contrasting pollution levels. One site was located near a phosphate fertilizer factory, and the other in an area free of acute air pollution. We also tested the relationship between tree age and pollen nutrient composition by sampling 60-yr-old trees of local origin in both sites. No population differences were found in nutrient concentrations in pollen. However, there were significant differences among populations in needle concentrations of K, Mg and Zn, as well as significant site x population interaction for Mn concentration. In pollen, populations at the polluted site had significantly higher concentrations of S, Mn, Al, Na, Cu, Ni and Cd, and lower Zn. Average concentrations of S, P, Mn and Cd was lower in pollen of 60-yr-old than 15-yr-old Scots pine trees. Pollen concentrations of P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe and B were similar between sites and not related to the concentration of these elements in needles. Therefore, by analyzing the chemical composition of pollen it is not possible to detect any nutritional disorders for P, K, Ca and Mg in plants, and it seems unlikely that nutrient analyses of pollen have an advantage over analyses of foliage as a bioindicator of pollution. However, enhanced accumulation by pollen of such elements as Al, S, Mn, Cu, Ni and Cd at the polluted site may adversely affect pollen function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-212
Number of pages18
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was made possible by support from the State Committee for Scientific Research (Poland) grant #6 P205 033 07.


  • Environmental pollution
  • Nutrients
  • Pollen
  • Provenance
  • Reproduction


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