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The predicted effects of global change (GC) will be exacerbated in the more densely populated cities of the future, especially in the Mediterranean basin where some environmental cues, such as drought and tropospheric ozone (O3) pollution, already mine seriously plant survival. Physiological and biochemical responses of a Mediterranean, evergreen, isohydric plant species (Quercus ilex) were compared to those of a sympatric, deciduous, anisohydric species (Q. pubescens) under severe drought (20% of the effective daily evapotranspiration) and/or chronic O3 exposure (80 ppb for 5 h day(-1) for 28 consecutive days) to test which one was more successful in those highly limiting conditions. Results show that (i) the lower reduction of total leaf biomass of Q. ilex as compared to Q. pubescens when subjected to drought and drought × O3 (on average -59 vs -70%, respectively); (ii) the steeper decline of photosynthesis found in Q. pubescens under drought (-87 vs -81%) and drought × O3 (-69 vs -59%, respectively); (iii) the increments of malondialdehyde (MDA) by-products found only in drought-stressed Q. pubescens; (iv) the impact of O3, found only in Q. pubescens leaves and MDA, can be considered the best probes of the superiority of Q. ilex to counteract the effect of mild-severe drought and O3 stress. Also, an antagonistic effect was found when drought and O3 were applied simultaneously, as usually happens during typical Mediterranean summers. Our dataset suggests that on future, the urban greening should be wisely pondered on the ability of trees to cope the most impacting factors of GC, and in particular their simultaneity.
PMID: 28616738 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]