Disease in wheat will increase in the future climate

Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere might be good for plants under certain conditions but new research has also shown that it is also good for the diseases.

A study published recently in the scientific journal Virus Research shows that increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) could lead to higher levels of virus in wheat.

The research, funded by Agriculture Victoria and Grains Research Development Corporation shows a virus which already causes damage to wheat crops could do even more harm as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere.

Dr Piotr Trebicki’s work involved measuring the incidence of aphid transmitted, yellow dwarf virus in wheat. Different amounts of carbon dioxide were given to various wheat plots in a Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment facility at Grains Innovation Park at Horsham.

The incidence of the yellow dwarf virus rose under elevated levels of carbon dioxide when compared to the current atmospheric conditions, as much as 34 per cent.

But the scientists are yet to work out exactly why this is happening.

“The mechanism behind increased yellow dwarf virus incidence under elevated carbon dioxide levels is not well understood,” Dr Trebicki said.

He said increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere in future years would affect plants and their interactions with pests and diseases.

“This is the first study that reports on the natural incidence of yellow dwarf virus in the field, under varying carbon dioxide levels, both ambient and elevated,” Dr Trebicki said.

“Over four growing seasons, and across four different virus strains and multiple wheat cultivars, virus incidence was higher under elevated carbon dioxide levels compared to current atmospheric levels.

“As virus infection can significantly reduce grain yield and quality, further research to understand the mechanisms involved is critical to maintain or increase future food production.

“There is real merit for further research to determine if virus incidence increases as a result of elevated carbon dioxide levels and to better understand what is happening.”

Source: Agriculture Victoria