Invited Seminar at CES on 23 February 2021 at 9:30 am titled "Effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on plants" by Dr. Varsha Pathare from Washington State University

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Effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on plants
Dr. Varsha Pathare, Washington State University
Date & Time: 
23 Feb 2021 - 9:30am
Event Type: 
Invited Seminar

Atmospheric [CO2] have been steadily rising due human activities like burning of fossil fuels and deforestations. The current atmospheric [CO2] have crossed already crossed the 400-ppm mark, highest is the past 700000 years, and projections by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change see atmospheric [CO2] to cross the 550-ppm mark by 2050. Elevated [CO2] are expected to increase the average global temperatures thus resulting in significant changes in wind and precipitation patterns and increased severity and frequency of droughts and floods. In addition to these effects on global climate, elevated [CO2] are likely to have profound and direct effects on the growth, physiology, and biochemistry of plants. These effects result from the central importance of [CO2] to plant metabolism. During the processes of photosynthesis plants take up atmospheric [CO2] and fix it into carbohydrate food with the help of sunlight, water and soil nutrients. This carbohydrate food is critical for plant growth and for survival of other life forms. Thus, photosynthesis is at the heart of plant metabolism and increasing the availability of CO2 for photosynthesis can have profound effects on many plant and ecosystem processes that depend on photosynthesis.

In today’s lecture we will see how elevated [CO2] affects the key process of photosynthesis in different plant types. We will particularly focus on understanding how plants belonging to different photosynthetic types, that is C3 and C4 species, respond to elevated [CO2] in terms of photosynthesis and productivity. And finally, we will see how techniques like free-air CO2 enrichment experiments have advanced our understanding of plant responses to elevated [CO2] in a more naturalistic way.

Speaker Bio: 
I am a plant ecophysiologist, specializing in ecology and physiology of grasses. My research interests include (1) understanding the adaptations and responses of plant photosynthesis and productivity to changing environments and (2) unravelling the physiological, anatomical and biochemical basis of variation in photosynthetic CO2-uptake and water-use among ecologically and evolutionarily diverse grasses. After completing my master’s degree in Botany from Savitribai Phule Pune University, I joined as a research fellow at Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai with Dr Penna Suprasanna. My research at BARC demonstrated how mycorrhizal colonization and nitrogen supply modify the accumulation of arsenic in crops like rice and mustard. In 2014, I was awarded the prestigious Australian Discovery Post-graduate Research scholarship to pursue a PhD degree at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University with Prof. David Ellsworth, and Prof. Oula Ghannoum. During my PhD, I worked at the unique and innovative Eucalyptus Free Air CO2 Enrichment Experiment, where I studied the photosynthesis and productivity responses of understory plant communities from a drought prone ecosystem to elevated CO2 concentrations. My PhD research has challenged the predominant thinking that under elevated CO2, drought prone ecosystems will use less water, accumulate more CO2 in biomass and thus mitigate the effects of climate change. These findings have been published in the journals of Global Change Biology and Nature and are being used for improving global climate change models. Since 2017, I am working as a post-doctoral researcher with Prof. Asaph Cousins at the Washington State University, Pullman, USA. Here, I have identified the key physiological, biochemical, and anatomical traits that determine CO2 and water movement inside the leaves of diverse grasses. Findings from this work have been published in the journals of New Phytologist and Plant, Cell and Environment and have important implications for predicting grassland responses to environmental changes and for devising strategies for crop improvement. Currently, I am characterizing the impact of key leaf anatomical traits on CO2-uptake and water-use at leaf and whole-plant scale in rice mutants.