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Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment Enhances Soil Cadmium Extraction

Paper Reviewed
Li, T., Tao, Q., Di, Z., Lu, F. and Yang, X. 2015. Effect of elevated CO2 concentration on photosynthetic characteristics of hyper-accumulator Sedum alfredii under cadmium stress. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 57: 653-660.

Noting that "heavy metal pollution of soil is one of the most important environmental problems in the world," Li et al. (2015) describe how certain plants called hyper-accumulators have the ability to extract significant amounts of deleterious elements, such as cadmium, from agricultural soils. And, therefore, they proceed to describe an experiment they conducted in order to see if the ongoing rise in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration might possibly help to reduce this problem by promoting the growth of Sedum alfredii plants and thereby enabling them to extract greater amounts of this stress-inducing element from agricultural soils, making them considerably more productive than they otherwise would be for the crops that subsequently follow them.

This work revealed, as the five Chinese scientists go on to report, that the extra 450 ppm of CO2 they supplied to half of the growth chambers enhanced the photosynthetic rates of their hyper-accumulating Sedum alfredii plants by 105-149%, while it increased the amount of biomass they produced by 24-37%, thereby demonstrating what Li et al. call their "great potential to improve the phytoextraction of cadmium," which phenomenon then allows the plants that follow them to produce greater crop yields.

Posted 16 November 2015