The decline of plant mineral nutrition under rising CO2: physiological and molecular aspects of a bad deal

Trends Plant Sci. 2023 Feb;28(2):185-198. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2022.09.002. Epub 2022 Nov 3.


The elevation of atmospheric CO2 concentration has a strong impact on the physiology of C3 plants, far beyond photosynthesis and C metabolism. In particular, it reduces the concentrations of most mineral nutrients in plant tissues, posing major threats on crop quality, nutrient cycles, and carbon sinks in terrestrial agro-ecosystems. The causes of the detrimental effect of high CO2 levels on plant mineral status are not understood. We provide an update on the main hypotheses and review the increasing evidence that, for nitrogen, this detrimental effect is associated with direct inhibition of key mechanisms of nitrogen uptake and assimilation. We also mention promising strategies for identifying genotypes that will maintain robust nutrient status in a future high-CO2 world.

Keywords: Plant nutrition; climate change; elevated CO(2); nitrogen assimilation; nitrogen uptake.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide* / metabolism
  • Ecosystem*
  • Minerals / metabolism
  • Minerals / pharmacology
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plants / metabolism


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Minerals
  • Nitrogen