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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IDENTIFYING AND MANIPULATING DETERMINANTS OF PHOTOSYNTHATE PRODUCTION AND PARTITIONING

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit

Title: Targets for crop biotechnology in a future high-CO2 and high-O3 world

Authors
item AINSWORTH, ELIZABETH
item Rogers, Alistair - BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LAB
item Leakey, Andrew D B - UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

Submitted to: Plant Physiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 28, 2008
Publication Date: May 1, 2008
Citation: Ainsworth, E.A., Rogers, A., Leakey, A.D.B. 2008. Targets for crop biotechnology in a future high-CO2 and high-O3 world. Plant Physiology. 147:13-19.

Interpretive Summary: This editorial outlines the nature of global climate change and discusses potential biotechnological targets for improving crop production in a future environment with high carbon dioxide concentration and high surface ozone concentration. The changes in temperature, precipitation and troposphtropospheric ozone projected for 2050 are spatially and temporally variable, poorly constrained and occurring in parallel. This moving and poorly defined target presents a significant challenge to a biotechnology industry hoping to provide cultivars tailored to regional production environments. In contrast, the increase in carbon dioxide concentration is uniform, global, and unfortunately, committed. Therefore, attempts to engineer crops to perform better under the conditions of increasing environmental stress associated with increased ozone exposure, temperature and changing precipitation patterns should be considered against the back drop of a guaranteed and ubiquitous increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. This editorial provides information for crop biotechnologists who currently are focusing on developing cultivars with tolerance to drought, high temperatures, low temperatures and nutrient limitations. We provide background on climate change and describe the opportunity to develop germplasm that is highly responsive to carbon dioxide and tolerant of elevated ozone concentrations.

Technical Abstract: This editorial outlines the nature of global climate change and discusses potential biotechnological targets for improving crop production in a future environment with high carbon dioxide concentration and high surface ozone concentration. The changes in temperature, precipitation and troposphtropospheric ozone projected for 2050 are spatially and temporally variable, poorly constrained and occurring in parallel. This moving and poorly defined target presents a significant challenge to a biotechnology industry hoping to provide cultivars tailored to regional production environments. In contrast, the increase in carbon dioxide concentration is uniform, global, and unfortunately, committed. Therefore, attempts to engineer crops to perform better under the conditions of increasing environmental stress associated with increased ozone exposure, temperature and changing precipitation patterns should be considered against the back drop of a guaranteed and ubiquitous increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. There is potential to modify the kinetic properties of Rubisco and the rate of substrate regeneration by the Calvin Cycle to optimize photosynthesis for elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. Since elevated carbon dioxide will increase photoassimilate availability, there is an opportunity to partition more carbon into osmolyte and antioxidant pools that could impart increased drought, heat, and oxidative stress tolerance. Engineering a larger number of reproductive sinks to utilize the additional carbon produced at elevated carbon dioxide concentration will be necessary to increase harvest index, reduce photosynthetic down-regulation and maximize yields. Increased allocation of carbon to tissues or symbionts responsible for nitrogen acquisition will help close the gap between nitrogen assimilation and carbon assimilation at elevated carbon dioxide, allowing balanced metabolism and maximizing growth and yield.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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