Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #335281

Research Project: Adaptation of Crops to Increased Carbon Dioxide and Warming

Location: Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory

Title: Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels this century will alter the protein, micronutrients, and vitamin content of rice grains with potential health consequences for the poorest rice-dependent countries

Author
item Zhu, Chunwu - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item Kobayashi, Kazuhiko - University Of Tokyo
item Loladze, Irakli - University Of Nebraska
item Zhu, Jianguo - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item Jiang, Qian - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item Xu, Xi - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item Liu, Gang - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item Seneweera, Saman - University Of Southern Queensland
item Ebi, Kristie - University Of Washington
item Drewnowski, Adam - University Of Washington
item Fukagawa, Naomi
item Ziska, Lewis

Submitted to: Science Advances
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2018
Publication Date: 5/23/2018
Citation: Zhu, C., Kobayashi, K., Loladze, I., Zhu, J., Jiang, Q., Xu, X., Liu, G., Seneweera, S., Ebi, K., Drewnowski, A., Fukagawa, N.K., Ziska, L.H. 2018. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels this century will alter the protein, micronutrients, and vitamin content of rice grains with potential health consequences for the poorest rice-dependent countries. Science Advances. 4(5):eaaq1012. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaq1012.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaq1012

Interpretive Summary: The rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) is sometimes referred to as “plant food” because CO2 can stimulate the growth of plants. However, it is unclear if this stimulation can also affect plant quality. Rice is a primary food crop for approximately 25% of the world’s population, and any affect of rising CO2 on its quality would have significant consequences for global diets. In the current study, we evaluated CO2-induced nutritional changes in protein; minerals (calcium, iron and zinc), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and the Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B5, B6 and B9) for eighteen different rice varieties grown in multiple locations throughout Asia. Results indicated that CO2 concentrations that will occur this century will result in significant declines in protein, iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B9; conversely, a significant increase was observed for a-tocopherol (vitamin E). Because rice consumption is associated with income, the overall nutritional deficit of protein, minerals and vitamins was directly linked to the lowest overall income per capita for the ten highest rice consuming countries. These data are of obvious value to nutritionists, health care workers, climate change scientists, and the general public.

Technical Abstract: Globally, rice is the primary food crop and caloric source for the least economically developed countries, especially in Asia. Although studies have explored the impacts of increased carbon dioxide concentration, [CO2] and climate change on rice production, there is limited quantification of the direct influence of [CO2] on the nutritional value of rice. In this study, we employed a holistic evaluation of CO2-induced nutritional changes in protein; minerals (calcium, iron and zinc), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and the Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B5, B6 and B9) for rice grown at CO2 concentrations anticipated this century and the potential health consequences. Results indicated that anticipated CO2 concentrations resulted in significant declines in protein, iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B9; conversely, a significant increase was observed for a-tocopherol (vitamin E). The overall nutritional deficit of protein, minerals and vitamins was directly linked to the lowest overall GDP per capita for the ten highest rice consuming countries. These CO2-induced qualitative changes could exacerbate the already considerable burden of under-nutrition for these low-income populations. The health impacts of increasing [CO2] on nutritional deficits in rice may be substantial, especially for poor populations who depend on rice as their primary food source. There is an immediate need for synergy between scientists of different disciplines to begin to address [CO2]-induced nutritional deficits through a range of solutions from education to field-based genetic selection to biofortification as a means to reduce or mitigate any health related consequences that are specific to rice-centric populations or regions.