Selenium deficiency risk predicted to increase under future climate change
The trace element selenium is essential for human health and is required in a narrow dietary concentration range. Insufficient selenium intake has been estimated to affect up to 1 billion people worldwide. Dietary selenium availability is controlled by soil–plant interactions, but the mechanisms governing its broad-scale soil distributions are largely unknown. Using data-mining techniques, we modeled recent (1980–1999) distributions and identified climate–soil interactions as main controlling factors. Furthermore, using moderate climate change projections, we predicted future (2080–2099) soil selenium losses from 58% of modeled areas (mean loss = 8.4%). Predicted losses from croplands were even higher, with 66% of croplands predicted to lose 8.7% selenium. These losses could increase the worldwide prevalence of selenium deficiency.