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
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy