Submitted to: Global Change Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 4, 2003
Publication Date: February 1, 2004
Citation: Leakey, A.D., Bernacchi, C.J., Dohleman, F.G., Ort, D.R. 2004. Will photosynthesis of maize (zea mays) in the U.S. corn belt increase in future [CO2] rich atmospheres? an analysis of diurnal courses of CO2 uptake under free-air concentration enrichment (face). Global Change Biology. 10:951-962. Interpretive Summary: Carbon dioxide in the world's atmosphere is on the rise. In the last century it has risen 20% and this geologically unprecedented pace will continue resulting in an atmosphere in 2050 containing 50% more CO2 than it did in 1900. While this enrichment of the atmosphere CO2 portends certain hazards of which global warming is the most publicized, it also offers the potential to increase plant production as carbon dioxide is in effect a fertilizer. However, in the case of corn, the third most important food crop globally, the effects of increasing CO2 are not adequately understood to allow accurate predictions of future crop production or allow varietal selection for improved productivity in a changing climate. Using technology that enables us to mimic the atmosphere of 2050 under natural field conditions, we found, contrary to predication, that the growth of corn was substantially stimulated by CO2 fertilization. This result calls for reassessment of the widely held view among crop research scientists that corn and other C4 plants will be unaffected by rising CO2.