From: Zoraida Portillo, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published December 26, 2012 08:56 AM

Sweet Potatoes Unexpected Reaction to Rising CO2 Levels

Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere caused by human-driven emissions might lead to larger sweet potatoes, a staple food for many African and Asian countries, research reveals.

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Sweet potatoes could double in size with the increase in CO2 levels currently forecasted for the end of this century, according to research by a team from the University of Hawaii, United States. The team presented their finding at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in San Francisco this month (3-7 December).

The researchers grew a white-fleshed sweet potato variety from Hawaii in two types of fertiliser at current CO2 levels of 352 parts per million (ppm), as well as in three raised CO2 environments: 763, 1,108 and 1,515 ppm.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, atmospheric CO2 levels will be between 500 and 1,000 ppm by the year 2100.

Even at 763 ppm of CO2, the tubers grew up to 96 per cent larger.

"It is more than likely that we will be reaching much higher CO2 levels than previously expected and it is therefore important to understand how plants will respond to elevated CO2 at much higher concentrations," Ben Czeck, one of the researchers, tells SciDev.Net.

Photo of Sweet Potato at harvest via Shutterstock.

Read more at ENN Affiliate SciDevNet.

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