Growing wheat in Biosphere 2 under elevated CO2: Observations and modeling

Francesco N. Tubiello, Tilak Mahato, Ty Morton, John W. Druitt, Tyler Volk, Bruno D V Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L., cv. Yecora Rojo) was grown in the intensive agricultural biome (IAB) of Biosphere 2 during the 1995-1996 winter/spring season. Environmental conditions were characterized by a day/night temperature regime of 27/17°C, relative humidity (RH) levels around 45%, mean atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450 ppmv, and natural light conditions with mean intensities about half of outside levels. Weekly samples of above-ground plant matter were collected throughout the growing season and phenological events recorded. A computer model, CERES-Wheat, previously tested under both field and controlled conditions, was used to simulate the observed crop growth and to help in data analysis. We found that CERES-Wheat simulated the data collected at Biosphere 2 to within 10% of observed, thus suggesting that wheat growth inside the IAB was comparable to that documented in other environments. The model predicts phenological stages and final dry matter (DM) production within 10% of the observed data. Measured DM production rates, normalized for light absorbed by the crop, suggested photosynthetic efficiencies intermediate between those observed under optimal field conditions and those recorded in NASA-Controlled Ecological Life-Support Systems (CELSS). We suggest that such a difference can be explained primarily in terms of low light levels inside the IAB, with additional effects due to elevated CO2 concentrations and diffuse light fractions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-286
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Biosphere 2
  • Controlled environments
  • Crop models
  • Elevated CO
  • Wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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