Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

European stress physiology and climate experiment: Project 1 - Wheat

Co-ordinated experimental investigations took place at sites across Europe and mathematical modelling was employed to assess impacts of future climatic changes (in particular carbon dioxide enrichment) and associated stresses (in particular tropospheric ozone) on major components of managed European vegetation. Wheat was chosen as crop species because of its relative importance in European agriculture. The project tested whether: increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and changes in the physical climate alter growth, development and productivity of European crops; changes in carbon dioxide concentrations and physical climate alter the sensitivity of plants to environmental stress. A network consisting of 13 working groups from eight European countries grew wheat under atmospheric conditions simulating the next century. A standard protocol was developed in order to provide comparable datasets of modellers with the aim to extend and to improve current crop growth models. Using crop growth data from a wide range of European climatic situations should enable predictions of crop growth under global change throughout Europe and identification of bioclimatic zones where existing crop systems may be at risk. Wheat crops proved to respond to carbon dioxide enrichment with an average increase in yield of 34% (680 vs 360 µmol/mol carbon dioxide) mainly caused by increased tillering. The spring wheat cultivar selected for the experiments (cultivar Minaret) turned out to be rather ozone-insensitive. Modelling wheat responses with regression models including carbon dioxide, ozone and climatic conditions could explain roughly 40% of the variation in yield. Using mechanistic wheat growth models, the correlation between predicted and observed values was even worse. Other factors than climate such as soil conditions which were not held constant between sites are thought to be responsible for this result. Wheat growth under altered atmospheric conditions affected not only growth and yield, but also physiology and quality of the crop. There was a remarkable decrease in wheat grain quality due to carbon dioxide enrichment which deserves further attention.


Hans-Juergen JAEGER
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