Carbon emissions related to human activities have been significantly contributing to the elevation of atmospheric [CO2] and temperature. More recently, carbon emissions have greatly accelerated, thus much stronger effects on crops are expected. Here, we revise literature data concerning the physiological effects of CO2 enrichment and temperature rise on crop species. We discuss the main advantages and limitations of the most used CO2-enrichment technologies, the Open-Top Chambers (OTCs) and the Free-Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE). Within the conditions expected for the next few years, the physiological responses of crops suggest that they will grow faster, with slight changes in development, such as flowering and fruiting, depending on the species. There is growing evidence suggesting that C3 crops are likely to produce more harvestable products and that both C3 and C4 crops are likely to use less water with rising atmospheric [CO2] in the absence of stressful conditions. However, the beneficial direct impact of elevated [CO2] on crop yield can be offset by other effects of climate change, such as elevated temperatures and altered patterns of precipitation. Changes in food quality in a warmer, high-CO2 world are to be expected, e.g., decreased protein and mineral nutrient concentrations, as well as altered lipid composition. We point out that studies related to changes in crop yield and food quality as a consequence of global climatic changes should be priority areas for further studies, particularly because they will be increasingly associated with food security.
DaMatta, F.M.; Grandis, A.; Arenque, B.C.; Buckeridge, M.S. Impacts of climate changes on crop physiology and food quality. Food Research International (2010) 43 (7) 1814-1823. [DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2009.11.001]