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Posted Thu Jun 24 2010: from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
In elevated carbon dioxide, soybeans stumble but cheatgrass keeps on truckin'
The wildfires, he read, are more frequent - they now occur every few years instead of every few decades - and they are burning larger areas. The more intense fire cycle is fueled by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), an invasive plant that is rapidly displacing native sagebrush plant communities. Schaefer, the Charles Allen Thomas Professor of Chemistry in Arts & Sciences, was intrigued. At home in St. Louis he was studying the response of soybeans to stressful growing conditions. Soybeans, frankly, were having trouble coping. What about cheatgrass, he wondered? The way it was mopping up the West suggested it might be running its metabolism differently from other plants. His hunch proved to be right. His results, published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, show that cheatgrass biochemistry is better suited to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations than soybean biochemistry. The research adds to a growing body of evidence challenging the idea that all plants will benefit from rising carbon dioxide levels. Some plants will be helped, but others will be harmed.
[Read more stories about: carbon emissions, food crisis]

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