- We explore the effect of heavy metals on CO2 assimilation and stomatal conductance in a common urban tree in Mexico City.
- PAR had the greatest effect on A; whereas TA and VPD had the greatest effect on gS
- There were not differences in the foliar internal concentrations of heavy metals between the studied sites.
- We found a lower stomatal density at the site with the highest concentration of pollutants.
- This finding represents a possible mechanism to avoid internal damage by these.
Urban trees reduce CO2 and pollutants that represent a risk for human health in cities. In this work, we assessed the potential effect of heavy metals and environmental variables on the CO2 assimilation (A) and the stomatal conductace (gS) of Ligustrum lucidum, a common urban tree in Mexico City. We compared two sites with contrasting pollution levels: 1) city centre (PPI-C, high pollution level); and 2) south of the city (CU-SW; low pollution level). At each site, we measured 1) phsysiological traits (A and gS); 2) environmental variables (photosynthetically active radiation, PAR; air temperature, TA; vapor pressure deficit, VPD; concentration of atmospheric CO2); and 3) morphological leaf characteristics (stomatal size and density). Concentration of the heavy metals Pb, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Fe, and Zn was determined in washed (internal metals) and unwashed (external plus internal metal) leaves at both sites. CO2 assimilation at CU-SW was higher than at PPI-C. PAR had the greatest effect on A; whereas TA and VPD had the greatest effect on gS. Regarding heavy metals, although we found no significant differences in internal concentrations between sites, we found a lower stomatal density at PPI-C, which may indicate a response of the species to the local pollution conditions. This characteristic might be benefitial for the species, allowing it to maintain optimal physiological conditions by reducing the assimilation of pollutants. Our results suggest that L. lucidum is a well adapted species for the urban environment.