Next generation of elevated [CO < inf> 2 ] experiments with crops: A critical investment for feeding the future world


Elizabeth A. Ainsworth, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Washington DC
Claus Beier, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Carlo Calfapietra, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Reinhart Ceulemans, Universiteit Antwerpen
Mylene Durand-Tardif, Centre de recherche Île-de-France-Versailles - Grignon
Graham D. Farquhar, ANU Research School of Biology
Douglas L. Godbold, Bangor University
George R. Hendrey, The Doctorate-Granting Institution of the City University of New York
Thomas Hickler, Institutionen för Naturgeografi och Ekosystemvetenskap, Lunds Universitet
Jörg Kaduk, University of Leicester
David F. Karnosky, Michigan Technological University
Bruce A. Kimball, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Washington DC
Christian Körner, Universitat Basel
Maarten Koornneef, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
Tanguy Lafarge, International Rice Research Institute
Andrew D.B. Leakey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Keith F. Lewin, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Stephen P. Long, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Remy Manderscheid, Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute
David L. Mcneil, University of Tasmania
Timothy A. Mies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Franco Miglietta, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Jack A. Morgan, USDA ARS Sugarbeet Research Unit
John Nagy, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Richard J. Norby, ORNL Environmental Sciences Division
Robert M. Norton, University of Melbourne
Kevin E. Percy, Canadian Forest Service
Alistair Rogers, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Jean Francois Soussana, Unité Mixte de Recherche sur l'Ecosystème Prairial (UREP)
Mark Stitt, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Hans Joachim Weigel, Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute
Jeffrey W. White, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Washington DC

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A rising global population and demand for protein-rich diets are increasing pressure to maximize agricultural productivity. Rising atmospheric [CO 2] is altering global temperature and precipitation patterns, which challenges agricultural productivity. While rising [CO2] provides a unique opportunity to increase the productivity of C3 crops, average yield stimulation observed to date is well below potential gains. Thus, there is room for improving productivity. However, only a fraction of available germplasm of crops has been tested for CO2 responsiveness. Yield is a complex phenotypic trait determined by the interactions of a genotype with the environment. Selection of promising genotypes and characterization of response mechanisms will only be effective if crop improvement and systems biology approaches are closely linked to production environments, that is, on the farm within major growing regions. Free air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments can provide the platform upon which to conduct genetic screening and elucidate the inheritance and mechanisms that underlie genotypic differences in productivity under elevated [CO2]. We propose a new generation of large-scale, low-cost per unit area FACE experiments to identify the most CO2-responsive genotypes and provide starting lines for future breeding programmes. This is necessary if we are to realize the potential for yield gains in the future.

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Plant, Cell and Environment