Creating sustainable crops in a changing climate

How does elevated CO2 affect a plant’s ability to take up nutrients? And Why does the nutritional content affect a plant’s ability to thrive and fight disease?

How does elevated CO2 affect a plant’s ability to take up nutrients? And Why does the nutritional content affect a plant’s ability to thrive and fight disease? In a new paper in the journal Current Biology, PSM’s Hatem Roauchad and his colleague Zaigham Shahzad propose steps toward understanding the link between increased CO2 and the mineral nutritional value of food crops.

HatemImage
The effect of elevated atmospheric CO2 on plant and human nutrition. Anthropogenic activities lead to high CO2, which shifts microbiome assembly and water availability and can affect nutrient uptake and translocation. Disruption of plant nutrition influences food production and nutritional quality. Ref. Shahzad and Rouached, Current Biology, 2022

 More than two decades of data collected from the Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiment shows that elevated CO2 leads to decreased mineral content in all c3 crops.

“We will try to explain why this change occurred and why is this happening, which will lead to problem solving,” Hatem says.

“Our question is whether this is a problem with the plant – is it unable to function in increased CO2? Or is it the plant’s adaptive response to the presence of additional CO2. Knowing this will lead to solving this problem.”

 In an increased CO2 environment, crop plants are nutrient deficient, despite adding fertilizers to the soil. “The FACE program provides excellent data, which pointed us in the right direction to addressing these questions,” Hatem says. “In my lab we explore new ways to tackle this problem We have been invited to publish this next paper, in which we will show how to address this issue.”

Hatem Rouached
Dr. Hatem Rouachad teaches Plant Mineral nutrition at MSU.

We believe our future research will resolve this question, and perhaps we can approach greater issues, such as hidden hunger. Research in the Hatem Rouached laboratory is funded by the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences and the Plant Resilience Institute at Michigan State University.


Dr. Hatem Rouachad teaches Plant Mineral nutrition at MSU.

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