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Selenium Deficiency Promoted by Climate Change

19:00 EST 20 Feb 2017 | Meridian Institute

In this article, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Switzerland, and other research institutes, report on the global distribution of selenium, an essential micronutrient for humans. The content of selenium in food largely depends on concentrations in the soil. According to previous studies, low selenium concentrations are associated with high pH and oxygen availability and low clay and soil organic carbon content. The Swiss researchers used data mining techniques to model global soil selenium concentrations; the analysis indicated the dominant role of climate-soil interactions in controlling soil selenium distributions. The team found that the main factors influencing concentrations are precipitation and the aridity index. Higher selenium concentrations are most likely to occur in areas with low to moderate precipitation and high clay content; lower concentrations are found in arid areas with high pH and low clay content. Projecting forward, the researchers found that under a moderate climate change scenario, selenium levels are likely to increase in parts of Australia, China, India and Africa. Yet overall, selenium levels are expected to decrease. By the end of the century, 66 percent of croplands are predicted to lose selenium with the areas most affected being agricultural areas of Europe and India, China, southern South America, southern Africa and the southwestern United States. Such losses, the authors say, could have implications for human health. The study serves, they add, as an early warning for humanitarian organizations and the agro-industry. Fertilizers containing selenium could be used to combat selenium deficiency and selenium additives could be used in animal feed.

Original Article: Selenium Deficiency Promoted by Climate Change

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