NWU a leader in research
POTCHEFSTROOM - The Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University (NWU) has recently opened the first facility of its kind in the country to study the effect of air pollution on plants.
The “Open-Top” chambers (OTC’s) were designed it such a way that the reaction on plants within the controled environment is as close as possible to natural conditions. Prof Gert Krüger, plant physiologist on the Campus and his students designed and built the chambers.
This research makes the NWU a leader in the field of study of the effect of air pollution on crops and natural vegetation. According to Prof Krüger, they collaborate closely with international experts from the Universities of York (in the UK) and Göteburg (in Sweden).
The research of Prof Krüger and two postgraduate students, Pieter Smit and Elmien Heyneke, focuses on stress physiology of plants in an attempt to study plants’ reaction to environmental stress (such as pollution) and the physiological and biochemical foundation thereof. According to Prof Krüger, this information is required for policy-making with respect to air pollution in South Africa.
The NWU was chosen as support centre for the activities of Air Pollution Information Africa (Apina) in Southern Africa. This research also fits in with the NWU’s research on atmospheric chemistry under the guidance of Prof Kobus Pienaar, Dean of the Natural Sciences Faculty.
The NWU has invested about R1,4 million in the project.
The Open-Top chambers that were built to study the effect of air pollution on plants were recently inaugurated. Here are Profs Leon van Rensburg (Environmental Sciences), Gert Krüger (plant physiologist), Mariëtte Lowes (Vice-Rector: Academic), Amanda Lourens (Director: Research Support) and Annette Combrink (Potchefstroom Campus Rector).