Submitted to: Plant Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/4/2016
Publication Date: 6/1/2017
Citation: Ainsworth, E.A. 2017. Understanding and improving global crop response to ozone pollution. Plant Journal. 90(5):886-897.
Interpretive Summary: Ozone is the most damaging air pollutant to crops, currently decreasing global crop production by ~80-120 million metric tons. Recent efforts to understand and improve crop responses to ground-level ozone using breeding and biotechnological strategies are described in this review.
Technical Abstract: Concentrations of ground-level ozone ([O3]) over much of the Earth’s land surface have more than doubled since pre-industrial times. The air pollutant is highly variable over time and space, which makes it difficult to assess the average agronomic and economic impacts of the pollutant as well as to breed crops for O3 tolerance. Recent modeling efforts have improved quantitative understanding of the effects of current and future [O3] on global crop productivity, and experimental advances have improved understanding of the cellular O3 sensing, signaling and response mechanisms. This work provides the fundamental background and justification for breeding and biotechnological approaches for improving O3 tolerance in crops. There is considerable within-species variation in O3 tolerance in crops, which has been used to create mapping populations for screening. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) for O3 tolerance have been identified in model and crop species, and although none have been cloned to date, transcript profiling experiments have identified candidate genes associated with QTL. Biotechnological strategies for improving O3 tolerance are also being tested, although there is considerable research to be done before O3 tolerant germplasm is available to growers for most crops. Strategies to improve O3 tolerance in crops have been hampered by the lack of translation of laboratory experiments to the field, and the lack of correlation between visual leaf-level O3 damage and yield loss to O3 stress. Future efforts to screen mapping populations in the field and to identify more promising phenotypes for O3 tolerance are needed.