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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: RESPONSE AND ADAPTATION OF CROPS AND WEEDS TO ELEVATED C02 AND GLOBAL WARMING

Location: Crop Systems & Global Change

Title: Food security and climate change: On the potential to adapt global crop production by active selection to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide

Authors
item Ziska, Lewis
item Bunce, James
item Shimono, Hiroyuki
item Gealy, David
item Baker, Jeff
item Newton, Paul
item Reynolds, Matthew
item Jagadish, Krishna
item Zhu, Chunwu
item Howden, Mark
item Wilson, Lloyd

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 13, 2012
Publication Date: August 8, 2012
Citation: Ziska, L.H., Bunce, J.A., Shimono, H., Gealy, D.R., Baker, J.T., Newton, P.C., Reynolds, M.P., Jagadish, K.S., Zhu, C., Howden, M., Wilson, L.T. 2012. Food security and climate change: On the potential to adapt global crop production by active selection to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 279:4097-4105.

Interpretive Summary: Agricultural production is under increasing pressure to maintain or increase in order to satisfy rising population, diversion of cereals to biofuels, increased protein demands, and climatic extremes. Because of the immediate and dynamic nature of these changes, adaptation measures are urgently needed to ensure both the stability and continued increase of the global food supply. Although potential adaption options often consider regional or sectoral variations of existing risk management (e.g., earlier planting dates, choice of crop), there may be a simple and effective strategy for increasing productivity. In spite of the recognition that atmospheric carbon dioxide is an essential plant resource that has increased globally by ~25% since 1959, efforts to breed for CO2 responsiveness among important crops have not been recognized as an effective adaptation measure. In this collaborative manuscript from the agricultural community, we challenge that viewpoint through an assessment of existing studies on carbon dioxide and seed variability. We demonstrate that while technical hurdles remain, active selection and breeding for CO2 responsiveness among cereal varieties may provide one of the simplest and direct strategies for increasing global yields and maintaining food security in the 21st century.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural production is under increasing pressure by global anthropogenic changes, including rising population, diversion of cereals to biofuels, increased protein demands, and climatic extremes. Because of the immediate and dynamic nature of these changes, adaptation measures are urgently needed to ensure both the stability and continued increase of the global food supply. Although potential adaption options often consider regional or sectoral variations of existing risk management (e.g., earlier planting dates, choice of crop), there may be a global-centric strategy for increasing productivity. In spite of the recognition that atmospheric carbon dioxide is an essential plant resource that has increased globally by ~25% since 1959, efforts to increase the biological conversion of atmospheric CO2 to stimulate seed yield through crop selection is not generally recognized as an effective adaptation measure. In this analysis, we challenge that viewpoint through an assessment of existing studies on CO2 and intraspecific variability. In doing so we illustrate the potential biological basis for differential plant response among crop lines. In addition we demonstrate that while technical hurdles remain, active selection and breeding for CO2 responsiveness among cereal varieties may provide one of the simplest and direct strategies for increasing global yields and maintaining food security with anthropogenic change.

Last Modified: 11/1/2014
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