The rapidly rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affect plants’ absorption of nitrogen, which is the nutrient that restricts crop growth in most terrestrial ecosystems. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have now revealed that the concentration of nitrogen in plants’ tissue is lower in air with high levels of carbon dioxide, regardless of whether or not the plants’ growth is stimulated. The study has been published in the journal Global Change Biology.
Researcher Johan Uddling has been working with Swedish and international colleagues to compile data on how raised levels of carbon dioxide impact on plant growth and nitrogen absorption.
Plant quality impaired by increased carbon dioxide levels
The study examines various types of ecosystems, including crops, grasslands and forests, and involves large-scale field experiments conducted in eight countries on four continents.
“The findings of the study are unequivocal. The nitrogen content in the crops is reduced in atmospheres with raised carbon dioxide levels in all three ecosystem types. Furthermore, we can see that this negative effect exists regardless of whether or not the plants’ growth increases, and even if fertiliser is added. This is unexpected and new,” says Johan Uddling, senior lecturer at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.
Significance of food quality, biodiversity and productivity
When carbon dioxide levels in the air increase, crops in future will have a reduced nitrogen content, and therefore reduced protein levels. The study found this for both wheat and rice, the two most important crops globally. The study also reveals that the strength of the effect varies in different species of grassland, which may impact on the species composition of these ecosystems.
“For all types of ecosystem the results show that high carbon dioxide levels can impede plants’ ability to absorb nitrogen, and that this negative effect is partly why raised carbon dioxide has a marginal or non-existent effect on growth in many ecosystems,” says Johan Uddling.
Accepted “truths” do not hold
Reduced nitrogen content in atmospheres with raised carbon dioxide has previously been attributed to a kind of dilutive effect, in which nitrogen absorption fails to keep pace with the increase in plants’ photosynthesis and growth.
“The findings of this study show that this interpretation is simplified and partly incorrect. We are seeing reduced nitrogen content even when growth has not been affected. Moreover, the effect is there in trials with powerful fertiliser, which indicates that it is not down to limited access to nitrogen in the soil. Future studies should look at what is causing the effect, but it appears to be linked to plants’ capacity to absorb nitrogen rather than to changed levels in the soil,” says Johan Uddling.
Link to article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12938/abstract
For further information, please contact:
Johan Uddling, senior lecturer at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg
+46 (0)31-786 3757, 073-8267104, firstname.lastname@example.org
Henrik Axlid | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy