Similar photosynthetic but different yield responses of C3 and C4 crops to elevated O3

Shuai Li, Andrew D. B. Leakey, Christopher A. Moller, Christopher M. Montes, Erik J. Sacks, DoKyoung Lee, Elizabeth A. Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The deleterious effects of ozone (O3) pollution on crop physiology, yield, and productivity are widely acknowledged. It has also been assumed that C4 crops with a carbon concentrating mechanism and greater water use efficiency are less sensitive to O3 pollution than C3 crops. This assumption has not been widely tested. Therefore, we compiled 46 journal articles and unpublished datasets that reported leaf photosynthetic and biochemical traits, plant biomass, and yield in five C3 crops (chickpea, rice, snap bean, soybean, and wheat) and four C4 crops (sorghum, maize, Miscanthus × giganteus, and switchgrass) grown under ambient and elevated O3 concentration ([O3]) in the field at free-air O3 concentration enrichment (O3-FACE) facilities over the past 20 y. When normalized by O3 exposure, C3 and C4 crops showed a similar response of leaf photosynthesis, but the reduction in chlorophyll content, fluorescence, and yield was greater in C3 crops compared with C4 crops. Additionally, inbred and hybrid lines of rice and maize showed different sensitivities to O3 exposure. This study quantitatively demonstrates that C4 crops respond less to elevated [O3] than C3 crops. This understanding could help maintain cropland productivity in an increasingly polluted atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2313591120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 14 2023


  • meta-analysis
  • crops
  • yield
  • photosynthesis
  • ozone pollution


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