On the face of it, this would seem to be good news for the gourd plant, but not really, Fuentes explained.
"There's a very very important ecological story there," said Fuentes. "We have a lot of plants releasing scents to pollinators." If ozone increases in rural areas, it could impinge on pollinators' abilities to find flowers. "The pollination will decrease. It will affect both native plants and some crops."
And since 70 percent of our food comes from plants pollinated by insects, Fuentes said, too much ozone in rural areas could affect our food supply. Urban areas of the United States are seeing lower ozone levels thanks to the Clean Air Act. But rural areas are seeing more ozone as pollution, because the intense industrialization of Asia blows across the Pacific Ocean, Fuentes said.
Another potential complication for plants is that some are known to protect themselves with scents. When under attack by a plant-eating insect, some plants will release special odors to attract predatory insects which will eat the herbivores. But if ozone is interfering with this distress signal, the plants lose one of their most powerful defenses.