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Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition.

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      Abstract

      Dietary deficiencies of zinc and iron are a substantial global public health problem. An estimated two billion people suffer these deficiencies, causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. Most of these people depend on C3 grains and legumes as their primary dietary source of zinc and iron. Here we report that C3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century. C3 crops other than legumes also have lower concentrations of protein, whereas C4 crops seem to be less affected. Differences between cultivars of a single crop suggest that breeding for decreased sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 concentration could partly address these new challenges to global health.

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      Most cited references 31

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      What have we learned from 15 years of free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE)? A meta-analytic review of the responses of photosynthesis, canopy properties and plant production to rising CO2.

      Free-air CO(2) enrichment (FACE) experiments allow study of the effects of elevated [CO(2)] on plants and ecosystems grown under natural conditions without enclosure. Data from 120 primary, peer-reviewed articles describing physiology and production in the 12 large-scale FACE experiments (475-600 ppm) were collected and summarized using meta-analytic techniques. The results confirm some results from previous chamber experiments: light-saturated carbon uptake, diurnal C assimilation, growth and above-ground production increased, while specific leaf area and stomatal conductance decreased in elevated [CO(2)]. There were differences in FACE. Trees were more responsive than herbaceous species to elevated [CO(2)]. Grain crop yields increased far less than anticipated from prior enclosure studies. The broad direction of change in photosynthesis and production in elevated [CO(2)] may be similar in FACE and enclosure studies, but there are major quantitative differences: trees were more responsive than other functional types; C(4) species showed little response; and the reduction in plant nitrogen was small and largely accounted for by decreased Rubisco. The results from this review may provide the most plausible estimates of how plants in their native environments and field-grown crops will respond to rising atmospheric [CO(2)]; but even with FACE there are limitations, which are also discussed.
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        A meta-analysis of elevated CO 2 effects on woody plant mass, form, and physiology

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          Elevated CO2 effects on plant carbon, nitrogen, and water relations: six important lessons from FACE.

          Plant responses to the projected future levels of CO(2) were first characterized in short-term experiments lasting days to weeks. However, longer term acclimation responses to elevated CO(2) were subsequently discovered to be very important in determining plant and ecosystem function. Free-Air CO(2) Enrichment (FACE) experiments are the culmination of efforts to assess the impact of elevated CO(2) on plants over multiple seasons and, in the case of crops, over their entire lifetime. FACE has been used to expose vegetation to elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO(2) under completely open-air conditions for nearly two decades. This review describes some of the lessons learned from the long-term investment in these experiments. First, elevated CO(2) stimulates photosynthetic carbon gain and net primary production over the long term despite down-regulation of Rubisco activity. Second, elevated CO(2) improves nitrogen use efficiency and, third, decreases water use at both the leaf and canopy scale. Fourth, elevated CO(2) stimulates dark respiration via a transcriptional reprogramming of metabolism. Fifth, elevated CO(2) does not directly stimulate C(4) photosynthesis, but can indirectly stimulate carbon gain in times and places of drought. Finally, the stimulation of yield by elevated CO(2) in crop species is much smaller than expected. While many of these lessons have been most clearly demonstrated in crop systems, all of the lessons have important implications for natural systems.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] 1] Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215, USA [2] Harvard University Center for the Environment, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
            [2 ] Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215, USA.
            [3 ] The Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Beer Sheva, Israel.
            [4 ] Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
            [5 ] Department of Plant Biology and Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.
            [6 ] Department of Plant Sciences, University of California at Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.
            [7 ] University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.
            [8 ] Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Horsham, Victoria 3001, Australia.
            [9 ] National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8604, Japan.
            [10 ] Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
            [11 ] United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Soybean/Maize Germplasm, Pathology, and Genetics Research Unit, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.
            [12 ] School of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.
            [13 ] United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Aberdeen, Idaho 83210, USA.
            [14 ] The Nature Conservancy, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87544, USA.
            [15 ] Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Creswick, Victoria 3363, Australia.
            [16 ] Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Creswick, Victoria 3363, Australia.
            Journal
            Nature
            Nature
            Springer Nature
            1476-4687
            0028-0836
            Jun 05 2014
            : 510
            : 7503
            24805231
            nature13179
            10.1038/nature13179
            4810679
            NIHMS765241

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