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Keywords:

  • Triticum aestivum (wheat) grain, quality;
  • nitrogen;
  • Free air CO2 enrichment (FACE);
  • drought;
  • water-stress;
  • global change;
  • protein

Summary

  •  The likely consequences of future high levels of atmospheric CO2 concentration on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grain nutritional and baking quality were determined.
  •  Two free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE; 550 mmol mol−1) experiments were conducted at ample (Wet) and limiting (Dry) levels of irrigation, and a further two experiments at ample (High-N) and limiting (Low-N) nitrogen concentrations. Harvested grain samples were subjected to a battery of nutritional and bread-making quality tests.
  •  The Dry treatment improved grain quality slightly (protein +2%; bread loaf volume +3%). By contrast, Low-N decreased quality drastically (protein −36%; loaf volume −26%). At ample water and N, FACE decreased quality slightly (protein −5%; loaf volume −2%) in the irrigation experiments and there was no change in the nitrogen experiments. At Low-N, FACE tended to make the deleterious effects of Low-N worse (protein −33% and −39%, at ambient CO2 and FACE, respectively; loaf volume −22% and −29% at ambient CO2 and FACE, respectively).
  • •  
    The data suggest that future elevated CO2 concentrations will exacerbate the deleterious effects of low soil nitrogen on grain quality, but with ample nitrogen fertilizer, the effects will be minor.