Phosphorus and elevated CO2 enhance drought tolerance

Benefits to crop productivity arising from increasing CO2 fertilization may be offset by detrimental effects of global climate change, such as an increasing frequency of drought. Phosphorus ( P ) nutrition plays an important role in crop responses to water stress, but how elevated CO2 (eCO2) and P nutrition interact, especially in legumes, is unclear. This study aimed to elucidate whether P supply improves plant drought tolerance under eCO2.

Effects of elevated CO<sub>2</sub> and P on drought tolerance
Effects of elevated CO2 and P on drought tolerance

Jin et al. use a free-air CO2 enrichment system to study the effects of phosphorus supply and elevated CO2 on responses to drought stress of field pea (Pisum sativum) grown in P-deficient vertisol. They find that P application and elevated CO2 interactively enhance water-use efficiency and improve tolerance to periodic drought as a result of decreased stomatal conductance, deep rooting and greater availability of inorganic P for carbon assimilation in leaves. An adequate supply of P may therefore help crops better withstand drought under future climate scenarios.

This article appears in the special issue Plants and Climate Change.