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Research Project: Strategies to Predict and Mitigate the Impacts of Climate Variability on Soil, Plant, Animal, and Environmental Interactions

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Closing the global ozone yield gap: Quantification and co-benefits for multi-stress tolerance

Author
item MILLS, GINA - Centre For Ecology And Hydrology
item SHARPS, KATRINA - Centre For Ecology And Hydrology
item SIMPSON, DAVID - Chalmers University Of Technology
item PLEIJEL, HAKAN - University Of Gothenburg
item FREI, MICHAEL - University Of Bonn
item Burkey, Kent
item EMBERSON, LISA - Stockholm Environmental Institute
item UDDLING, JOHAN - University Of Gothenburg
item BROBERG, MALIN - University Of Gothenburg
item FENG, ZHAOZHONG - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item KOBAYASHI, KAZUHIKO - University Of Tokyo
item AGRAWAL, MADHOOLIKA - Banaras Hindu University

Submitted to: Global Change Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/18/2018
Publication Date: 10/1/2018
Citation: Mills, G., Sharps, K., Simpson, D., Pleijel, H., Frei, M., Burkey, K.O., Emberson, L., Uddling, J., Broberg, M., Feng, Z., Kobayashi, K., Agrawal, M. 2018. Closing the global ozone yield gap: Quantification and co-benefits for multi-stress tolerance. Global Change Biology. 24:4869-4893.

Interpretive Summary: Ground level ozone is formed by the action of sunlight on volatile hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides produced during combustion of carbon based fuels. Although frequently considered an urban problem, ozone pollution is much broader in scope because weather systems transport the pollutants across long distances into agricultural areas. Ozone is toxic to plants, causing a reduction in the growth and yield of sensitive crops. An international group from organizations in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Germany, China, Japan, India, and USDA-ARS in the Raleigh NC worked as a team to model the impact of ozone on yield losses for soybean, wheat, maize, and rice to be 12.4%, 7.1%, 4.4% and 6.1%, respectively, on an annual basis world-wide. The highest ozone-induced production losses for soybean are in North and South America whilst for wheat they are in India and China, for rice in parts of India, Bangladesh, China and Indonesia, and for maize in China and the USA. The analysis also showed the same areas are often at risk of high losses from pests and diseases, heat stress and to a lesser extent aridity and nutrient stress. Management practices to reduce the ozone impacts and breeding approaches to improve the ozone tolerance of crops are proposed as potential solutions to the ozone problem. Given the severity of ozone effects on staple food crops in areas of the world that are also challenged by other stresses, we recommend increased attention to the benefits that could be gained from addressing the ozone yield gap.

Technical Abstract: Increasing both crop productivity and the tolerance of crops to abiotic and biotic stresses are major challenges for global food security in our rapidly changing climate. For the first time, we show how the spatial variation and severity of tropospheric ozone effects on yield compare with effects of other stresses on a global scale, and discuss mitigating actions against the negative effects of ozone. We show that the sensitivity to ozone declines in the order soybean > wheat > maize > rice, with genotypic variation in response being most pronounced for soybean and rice. Based on stomatal uptake, we estimate that ozone (mean of 2010 - 2012) reduces global yield annually by 12.4%, 7.1%, 4.4% and 6.1% for soybean, wheat, rice and maize, respectively (the ‘ozone yield gaps’), adding up to 227 Tg of lost yield. Our modelling shows that the highest ozone-induced production losses for soybean are in North and South America whilst for wheat they are in India and China, for rice in parts of India, Bangladesh, China and Indonesia, and for maize in China and the USA. Crucially, we also show that the same areas are often also at risk of high losses from pests and diseases, heat stress and to a lesser extent aridity and nutrient stress. In a solution-focused analysis of these results, we provide a crop ideotype with tolerance of multiple stresses (including ozone) and describe how ozone effects could be included in crop breeding programmes. We also discuss altered crop management approaches that could be applied to reduce ozone impacts. Given the severity of ozone effects on staple food crops in areas of the world that are also challenged by other stresses, we recommend increased attention to the benefits that could be gained from addressing the ozone yield gap.