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Global Changes, Photosynthesis and sustainability

Class at Faculty of Science |


Importance of photosynthesis : production of organic substances and the beginning of the food web and production of the atmospheric oxygen.

A review of photosynthetic structures and processes at the level of chloroplasts, leaves, plants and canopies.

Critical problems of mankind in the 21st century: 1. Shortage of food in the world.

A review of the most important crops. Historical development and projections into future of changes of crop production, yield and land area. 2. Climate changes

Physical principals of the greenhouse changes on the Earth.

Greenhouse gases and historical changes as well as future projection of the changes of their atmospheric concentration. Carbon global cycle and anthropogenic activities modifying it. 3. Water shortage.

The utilization of current water on this planet. The contribution of agricultural irrigation to the world water consumption.

Photosynthetic activity of both wild and cultivated plants and possibilities for its modification in relation to the above mentioned problems of mankind. 1. Biological principles of crop yield formation.

Factors determining (a) solar energy absorption by the canopy, (b) efficiency of the photosynthetic transformation of the absorbed radiation energy, (c) allocation and distribution of assimilate.

The importance of leaf area changes during plant ontogeny. Spatial distribution of assimilation organs in a canopy. Mineral fertilizers and their necessity

Possibilities for an increase in the rate of photosynthesis: (a) morphological modification of the plant type, (b) introduction of genes from the C4 plants into C3 crop species, (c) the use of varietal differences in the crop efficiency to use enhanced CO2 concentration, (d) management (precision agriculture, agroforestry, etc.). 2. The main component of global carbon cycle on the Earth.

The most important antropogenic sources of carbon dioxide (fossil fuels burning and changes of land cover). The effect of enhanced CO2 concentration on plants. Consequences of the increase in CO2 production: an increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration an in the CO2 absorption by oceans, potential changes in the carbon sequestration by land ecosystems.

Biological, technical and economic possibilities to decrease atmospheric CO concentration. 3. Water consumption and photosynthetic production.

Physiology of water absorption, use and release by plants. He role of water in biomass production.

Irrigation of cultivated plants and methods used to determine the exact time and dose for watering.

Biological and technical possibilities to decrease water use in irrigation.

The necessity to induce sustainable development of mankind and main factors contributing to the present non-sustainable development.


The course will give basic information for evaluation of those functions of vegetation which cannot be forgotten when determining favourable conditions for life on the Earth. Simultanesously, it reviews and enlightens the most important relationships among keeping functional plant properties, their effects on life conditions and consequences of changes in extent and way of usage of continents and oceans forced by human demands. The ecosystem services provided by plants will also be discussed. Given the interdependence of climate and vegetation functions, the lecture will focus not only on the effects of climate on plants, but also on influencing local, regional and global climate by plants. The lecture will also address the current climate change and its impact on plants and how plants affect the climate of the planet. Also discussed will be the plants in agroecoystems, basic principles of crop production, different types of agriculture - conventional, alternative, agroforestry, precision agriculture will be mentioned.The course focuses on scientific apsects of real sustainability of human civilizations with emphasis given to plant functions. It contains a range of practical topics related to transformation of petrochemical agriculture to "sun" agriculture, biomass availability as sources of alternative energy, role of plants in global water cycle and water availability for human needs, perspectives of artificial photosynthesis, use of genetically modified plants, etc. It is aimed to give to students background for independent qualified evaluation of extent of indispensable, unaviodable measures to be taken with a priority of respect of natural laws.

A review of physiological aspects of important global changes mankind is facing in the 21st century: food production, global climate changes, and water shortage. Biological bases of crop production. Application of physiological knowledge in crop breeding and technology. Global climate changes, photosynthesis and the role of anthropogenic modification of the carbon cycle on the Earth. The importance of crop irrigation and biological possibilities to reduce water consumption in irrigated crops. Environmental and biological aspects of sustainability.