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Climate Change/Air Quality Laboratory

Strategies to Predict and Manipulate Responses of Crops and Crop Disease to Anticipated Changes of Carbon Dioxide, Ozone, and Temperature

Background and Objectives  

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are steadily increasing, which is expected to impact climate and crop productivity.

 Ground-level ozone concentrations in many regions of the United States can reduce crop productivity and impair ecosystem health.

Global mean temperature has increased over the past 100 years by around 0.7 oC.  Since the 1970s, increases in greenhouse gases have dominated over all other factors, and there has been a period of sustained warming.

Climate change is expected to have a major impact on food production in the coming decades. Environmental factors are projected to interact directly and indirectly with cropping systems in ways that are presently unclear.

In the context of this project, climate change represents multiple factors that must be examined singly and in combination to realistically assess potential impacts.

Currently available exposure systems and new technology developed by the project will be employed to establish experimental treatments representative of future climates.  The objectives and approaches are designed to examine the effects of elevated temperature, carbon dioxide, ozone and variations in vapor pressure deficit on yield and seed quality of soybean, wheat and snap bean.  Soybean growth and yield responses are being used in a crop growth model to improve predictive capabilities and management practices.     

The potential impact of changing temperature, carbon dioxide, ozone and vapor pressure deficit on plant-pathogen interactions is also being examined through studies of stripe rust and stem rust infection of susceptible and resistant wheat cultivars.

Soybean germplasm is being evaluated for ozone tolerance, and ozone-tolerance genes are being mapped. An underlying theme of the research is the potential use of genetic selection to maintain and enhance crop productivity in a changing climate.