Knowledge for Development

Nutrients in crop fall as CO2 levels rise

Author:

Date: 30/06/2014

Introduction:

Andrew Leakey, plant biology professor at the University of Illinois, US, and colleagues report that levels of zinc, iron and protein drop in some key crop plants when grown at elevated CO2 levels. 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. The experiments revealed that the nutritional quality of a number of the world’s most important plants dropped in response to elevated CO2. 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. Nutrients in millet, 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.    

(University of Illinois, 07/05/2014)   

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