Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

As carbon dioxide levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall, researchers find

Date:
May 7, 2014
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Researchers have some bad news for future farmers and eaters: As carbon dioxide levels rise this century, some grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today.

Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) systems, like this one at the University of Illinois, allow researchers to simulate future atmospheric conditions to determine their effects on plants.
Credit: Don Hamerman

Researchers have some bad news for future farmers and eaters: As carbon dioxide levels rise this century, some grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today.

The new findings are reported in the journal Nature. Eight institutions, from Australia, Israel, Japan and the United States, contributed to the analysis.

The researchers looked at multiple varieties of wheat, rice, field peas, soybeans, maize and sorghum grown in fields with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels like those expected in the middle of this century. (Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are currently approaching 400 parts per million, and are expected to rise to 550 ppm by 2050.)

The teams simulated high CO2 levels in open-air fields using a system called Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE), which pumps out, monitors and adjusts ground-level atmospheric CO2 to simulate future conditions. In this study, all other growing conditions (sunlight, soil, water, temperature) were the same for plants grown at high-CO2 and those used as controls.

The experiments revealed that the nutritional quality of a number of the world's most important crop plants dropped in response to elevated CO2.

The study contributed "more than tenfold more data regarding both the zinc and iron content of the edible portions of crops grown under FACE conditions" than available from previous studies, the team wrote.

"When we take all of the FACE experiments we've got around the world, we see that an awful lot of our key crops have lower concentrations of zinc and iron in them (at high CO2)," said University of Illinois plant biology and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Andrew Leakey, an author on the study. "And zinc and iron deficiency is a big global health problem already for at least 2 billion people."

Zinc and iron went down significantly in wheat, rice, field peas and soybeans. Wheat and rice also saw notable declines in protein content at higher CO2.

"Across a diverse set of environments in a number of countries, we see this decrease in quality," Leakey said.

Nutrients in sorghum and maize remained relatively stable at higher CO2 levels because these crops use a type of photosynthesis, called C4, which already concentrates carbon dioxide in their leaves, Leakey said.

"C4 is sort of a fuel-injected photosynthesis that maize and sorghum and millet have," he said. "Our previous work here at Illinois has shown that their photosynthesis rates are not stimulated by being at elevated CO2. They already have high CO2 inside their leaves."

More research is needed to determine how crops grown in developing regions of the world will respond to higher atmospheric CO2, Leakey said.

"It's important that we start to do these experiments in tropical climates with tropical soils, because that's just a terrible gap in our knowledge, given that that's where food security is already the biggest issue," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Samuel S. Myers, Antonella Zanobetti, Itai Kloog, Peter Huybers, Andrew D. B. Leakey, Arnold J. Bloom, Eli Carlisle, Lee H. Dietterich, Glenn Fitzgerald, Toshihiro Hasegawa, N. Michele Holbrook, Randall L. Nelson, Michael J. Ottman, Victor Raboy, Hidemitsu Sakai, Karla A. Sartor, Joel Schwartz, Saman Seneweera, Michael Tausz, Yasuhiro Usui. Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13179

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "As carbon dioxide levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall, researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140507132659.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2014, May 7). As carbon dioxide levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140507132659.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "As carbon dioxide levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall, researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140507132659.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins