Staffordshire University logo

Define Your Life

Applied Sciences News
Faculty of Sciences



Last updated: 24th July 2007

Welcome to Applied Sciences News

* You are in: Home > Sciences > Applied Sciences>News

Breaking News - Ranford's Holly Hits Headlines For Christmas

Holly may not be celebrating the festive season !!!

This well known plant that was used to keep evil spirits at bay and bring good luck is now facing its own problems, according to two recently published studies (Environmental Pollution vol. 145, pp 171 & 355) by researchers Dr. Jon Ranford & Dr. Kevin Reiling at Staffordshire University.

They have looked at the impact of ozone air pollution over 4 years and have come across some startling results.

After subjecting young holly plants to a typical summer dose of ozone for 28 days they found these plants lost their leaves up to 4 months earlier, lost more water through their stomata and had shorter roots and shoots, than plants subjected to clean air . There were also serious carry-over effects to the plants with the following year's new leaves being lost up to 2 months earlier and significantly lower leaves being produced in the following three years after ozone exposure. A reduction in leaves means the plants will produce less photosynthetic products for growth and repair and may effect how well holly survives in its habitat. The first study also indicated a reduction in frost tolerance with more leaves being lost over the winter period, so the second study using the same method as before, then placed holly plants in special refrigerated cabinets which dropped down to -5/-10/-15 C at night. The plants subjected to ozone had significantly higher loss of electrolytes from their cells at all temperatures and had up to 30 % reduction in winter survival.

jon holly
Photo. courtesy of The Sentinel

Using a technique called Chlorophyll Fluorescence the research also showed the plants were under significantly more stress if they received the ozone and the sub zero temperatures. Dr Ranford says, "the establishment and survival of holly in the ecosystem may be seriously impacted upon, especially because the background concentrations of ozone are rising and are predicted to continue to do so".

International/national reports highlighting this research have been described in the Christmas edition of New Scientist, The Sunday Observer, Radio 4 and several news websites. Locally it was reported by The Sunday Sentinel and Dr. Ranford gave a radio interview with Radio Stoke on Thursday 21st Dec. 2006.

For further information/interviews please contact jon.ranford@staffs.ac.uk telephone 01782 294892.

Sciences Related Links



© Staffordshire University 2014.
Privacy Statement | Accessibility Statement | Disclaimer | Contact Us

Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2DE.
Tel: +44 (0)1782 294000