flatter bread breaks hearts

German researchers have shown that high CO2 levels in the atmosphere lead to wheat crops throughout Europe with less gluten, the protein in flour that forms the gooey matrix of dough.

By 2050, the researchers say, the expected CO2 levels in the atmosphere may lead to dough that rises nearly 20% less than it does now. The researchers, from the Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute in Braunschweig , say that CO2 disrupts nitrogen uptake by the plants, and this causes the protein deficiency.

A world with less gluten may appeal to coeliac sufferers and other members of the wheatless protection program. But for fans of ciabatta and pain de campagne, bread with texture like sponge cake is a heart-breaking prospect.
New Scientist, 10 Jul 2008