Elevated temperature and carbon dioxide alter resource allocation to growth, storage and defence in cassava (Manihot esculenta)

Samantha J. Forbes, Lucas A. Cernusak, Tobin D. Northfield, Roslyn M. Gleadow, Smilja Lambert, Alexander W. Cheesman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global warming can alter how plants partition their resources. This is important for food crops through changes in resource allocation to edible tissues and toxic defence compounds. While research suggests elevated temperature and [CO2] independently drive changes in plant metabolism and stress levels, and photosynthetic rates, respectively, it is less clear how these environmental changes impact plants when combined. Cassava is an important dietary staple for many developing nations. However, the safety of cassava depends on cyanogenic glucoside concentrations. In a climate-controlled greenhouse, the effects of elevated temperature in the presence and absence of elevated [CO2] on the growth, physiology and chemical defence of cassava at two growth stages were examined. Growth in cassava was initially increased by elevated temperature. However, across time, simultaneous elevated [CO2] led to an increasing biomass advantage over plants grown at ambient [CO2] and temperature. Elevated temperature and [CO2] also significantly increased tuber initiation and early tuber expansion. Tuber and leaf cyanide concentrations were significantly reduced under elevated temperature, while elevated temperature and [CO2] produced tuber cyanide concentrations similar to the higher levels found in plants grown at ambient conditions. The findings highlight how future climate change may impact both cassava production and quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103997
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Climate change
  • Cyanogenic glucosides
  • Global food security
  • Major staple crops
  • Plant defence
  • Resource partitioning

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