Special Topics in BIO: Climate Change, Plant Health and Food Security (BIO 58000)

2021 Spring
Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences
Levent Öztürk lozturk@sabanciuniv.edu,
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Doctoral, Master
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Climate change is predicted to adversely affect plant production in most of the agricultural areas around the world. Many established agricultural production systems are being questioned for their vulnerability to climate change, forcing farmers to adopt new management practices and modify their accustomed cropping systems. ?Climate Change, Plant Health and Food Security?? course will study the individual climate change variables in two sections. The first section will discuss the variables that have a broader and direct effect, viz., (i) elevating atmospheric carbon dioxide (eCO2) and (ii) rising global temperature. The second section will highlight localized effects of climate change (i.e. changing precipitation patterns, heat waves, frequency of agricultural droughts) on plant health and food security. In the first section, the contradictory interactions of eCO2 and high temperatures will be examined in light of recent literature. It is known that eCO2 alone can bring about significant profit in gross agricultural production, mostly by means of cultivation of C3 crop species and due to increased carbon abundance and the concomitant water-use efficiency. However, students will comprehend that the rising global temperatures challenge any optimistic predictions about the effect of global climate change on crop productivity. In the final part of the first section students will be given the task of performing a literature review on effects of major climate change variables on deterioration of the nutritional value of cereal grains (i.e. due to enhanced carbohydrate accumulation and thus dilution of protein and micronutrients in grain tissue). The second section will focus on increases in frequency and severity of abiotic stressors including but not limited to heat, drought, waterlogging, and salinity as a consequence of changes in the local climate. Topics will extend to impact of global and local climate change variables on crop pests and diseases. Potential effects of climate change-induced biotic stress factors will be discussed in particular of farm biosecurity and food security. In the final section of the course, mitigation and adaptation strategies for tackling local and global climate change variables will be introduced. Strengths and weaknesses of current breeding and agricultural management strategies will be discussed.