Increasing temperatures can affect crop yields: Illinois researchers

Researchers at the University of Illinois has recently revealed that not only do increasing levels of toxic carbon dioxide have an adverse impact on crop yield, but rising temperatures is also likely to add to the growing complexities in crop development.

In one of the latest publications in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the researchers have explored how high temperatures impact plant growth and its ability to survive despite the improved availability of atmospheric CO2, one of the key components of photosynthesis.

According to the reports, extreme heat can decrease the efficacy of enzymes that improve photosynthesis and can hamper the plant’s capability to control CO2 uptake and water loss. In line with this, several ecosystem attributes like size and density of plants and arrangement of leaves on plants are also likely to influence how heat would affect the crop yields.

The research and review was led by Caitlin Moore along with Amanda Cavanagh, a University of Illinois alumna. Caitlin Moore currently serves as a research fellow at the University of Western Australia and an affiliate research fellow at the U. of I.’s Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.

Moore, while reviewing the study, stated that it is important for the world to have a proper understanding of these issues across diverse scales in order to really address the problems in an uninformed way.

On the other hand, Amanda Cavanagh, who is engaged in studying the molecular biology and physiology of plants, cited that some plants are relatively more heat tolerant than others, which is compelling the scientists to search their genomes for clues their success.

She raised alarming concerns regarding the increasing temperature of the world. She put forth numbers citing that each increase in gross temperature degree can cause nearly 3% to 7% losses in yield of the country’s main crops. What makes her optimistic is the realization that much work, in this context, is going into globally.

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