University of Illinois researchers are studying the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, elevated ozone and higher atmospheric temperatures on plant diseases that could challenge crops in these changing conditions. Darin Eastburn evaluated the effects of elevated carbon dioxide and ozone on three economically important soybean diseases under natural field conditions at the soybean-free air-concentrating enrichment (SoyFACE) facility in Urbana. Elevated carbon dioxide levels are more likely to have a direct effect on plant diseases through changes to the plant hosts rather than the plant pathogens.
U of I's SoyFACE was the first facility to expose plants to elevated ozone under completely open-air conditions within an agricultural field. The facility allows researchers to evaluate the influence of natural variability of meteorological factors such as drought and temperature in conjunction with imposed atmospheric composition (elevated carbon dioxide and ozone) on naturally occurring soybean diseases across several growing seasons.