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Season-long elevation of ozone concentration to projected 2050 levels under fully open-air conditions substantially decreases the growth and production of soybean.

The New Phytologist

metabolism, Weather, drug effects, economics, growth & development, Crops, Agricultural, Forecasting, Ozone, pharmacology, Plant Shoots, Seasons, Seeds, Soybeans, Air Pollution, Biomass

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      Mean surface ozone concentration is predicted to increase 23% by 2050. Previous chamber studies of crops report large yield losses caused by elevation of tropospheric ozone, and have been the basis for projecting economic loss. This is the first study with a food crop (soybean, Glycine max) using free-air gas concentration enrichment (FACE) technology for ozone fumigation. A 23% increase in ozone concentration from an average daytime ambient 56 p.p.b. to a treatment 69 p.p.b. over two growing seasons decreased seed yield by 20%. Total above-ground net primary production decreased by 17% without altering dry mass allocation among shoot organs, except seed. Fewer live leaves and decreased photosynthesis in late grain filling appear to drive the ozone-induced losses in production and yield. These results validate previous chamber studies suggesting that soybean yields will decrease under increasing ozone exposure. In fact, these results suggest that when treated under open-air conditions yield losses may be even greater than the large losses already reported in earlier chamber studies. Yield losses with elevated ozone were greater in the second year following a severe hailstorm, suggesting that losses caused by ozone might be exacerbated by extreme climatic events.

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