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Title: Next generation of elevated [CO2] experiments with crops: A critical investment for feeding the future world

item Ainsworth, Elizabeth - Lisa
item Beier, C
item Calfapietra, C
item Cuelemans, R
item Durand-tardif, M
item Farquhar, G
item Godbold, D
item Hendrey, G
item Hickler, T
item Kaduk, J
item Karnosky, D
item Kimball, Bruce
item Koerner, C
item Koornneef, M
item Lafarge, T
item Leakey, A D B
item Lewin, K
item Long, S
item Manderscheid, R
item Mcneil, D
item Meis, T
item Miglietta, F
item Morgan, Jack
item Nagy, J
item Norby, R
item Norton, R
item Percy, K
item Rogers, A
item Soussana, J-f
item Stitt, M
item Weigel, H-j
item White, Jeffrey

Submitted to: Plant Cell and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/27/2008
Publication Date: 9/1/2008
Citation: Ainsworth, E.A., Beier, C., Calfapietra, C., Cuelemans, R., Durand-Tardif, M., Farquhar, G.D., Godbold, D.L., Hendrey, G.R., Hickler, T., Kaduk, J., Karnosky, D.F., Kimball, B.A., Koerner, C., Koornneef, M., Lafarge, T., Leakey, A. D. B., Lewin, K.F., Long, S.P., Manderscheid, R., McNeil, D.L., Meis, T.A., Miglietta, F., Morgan, J.A., Nagy, J., Norby, R.J., Norton, R.M., Percy, K.E., Rogers, A., Soussana, J., Stitt, M., Weigel, H., White, J.W. 2008. Next generation of elevated [CO2] experiments with crops: A critical investment for feeding the future world. Plant Cell and Environment. 31:1317-1324.

Interpretive Summary: The European Science Foundation sponsored the workshop, "FACEing the Future: Planning the Next Generation of Elevated CO2 Experiments on Crops and Ecosystems" in Rome, Italy in December 2007. This manuscript outlines objectives and plans for the next generation of experiments with food crops, based on discussions from that workshop. Specifically, the next experiments should: quantify the genetic variation for the grain yield response of major crops to elevated [CO2], use existing genetic variation and new tools to study the mechanisms of crop yield response to elevated [CO2], and in the longer term, determine how yield is impacted by elevated [CO2] in combination with other aspects of climate change, such as rising temperature, rising ozone concentration, and increased drought stress. These are ambitious goals that will require a collaborative international effort between crop geneticists, molecular biologists, plant physiologists, agronomists and crop modelers. The outcomes from this effort would identify germplasm with high yield responsiveness to elevated [CO2], the most appropriate parent materials for crop improvement programs, and potential feedbacks between crop systems and the environment. Importantly, this work would deliver data for modeling efforts to explore the impacts of different global change scenarios or to guide decision making by producers, policy-makers and other stakeholders.

Technical Abstract: Rising demand for grain crops and an expanding biofuel industry are vastly increasing pressure to maximize productivity on agricultural land. Rising atmospheric [CO2] is increasing global temperature and altering precipitation patterns, which will challenge agricultural productivity in the future. Yet, rising [CO2] also provides a unique opportunity to markedly increase the productivity of C3 crops, but the average yield stimulation observed to date is well below the potential theoretical gains. This suggests there is significant room for improving productivity. There are tens of thousands of lines of wheat, rice, soybean and other crops available, but only a fraction of these have been tested for CO2 responsiveness in a production environment. Yield is a complex phenotypic trait determined by the interactions of a genotype with the environment. Selection of promising genotypes and characterization of physiological mechanisms will only be effective if the crop improvement and systems biology approaches are closely linked to actual production environments, i.e., on the farm within the major growing regions. Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiments can provide the platform upon which to conduct genetic screening as well as to elucidate the inheritance and mechanisms that underlie cultivar differences in productivity under elevated [CO2]. We propose a new generation of large scale, low-cost per unit area, FACE facilities and experiments to identify the most CO2-responsive genotypes and provide starting lines for future breeding programs. This is necessary if we are to realize the potential yield gains in the future.