Scientists improved photosynthesis increasing plant yields by 40 percent.
Researchers have succeeded in improving photosynthesis in tobacco, and as a result have increased yields by as much as 40 percent. compared to their wild relatives. The method can also be applied to crops such as rice, wheat and potatoes, which are a dietary staple for millions of people around the world.
Photosynthesis is a biochemical process thatory allows plants to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy. However, in most crops, including the most desirable ones such as rice and wheat, photosynthesis produces toxic byproducts, ktore reduces its efficiency. To eliminate these byproducts, plants have evolved a different biochemical process – photorespiration (photorespiration), ktory converts them into metabolically useful components. Unfortunately, this comes at a significant energy cost and limits on production potential.
Researchers at the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture say they have found a way toob to overcome natural limitations in the process of photosynthesis, whichore reduce crop yields. They have developed a metabolic pathway in transgenic tobacco plants thatory recovers photosynthetic byproducts more efficiently with less energy loss.
Proby field studies have shown that modified tobacco yielded by about 40 percent. yieldoin more than its wild relative. This method can be roAlso used to significantly increase yieldsow of the most important crops, whichore are the nutritional basis of a millionoin the waspob.
The study was published in the journal „Science”.
– We could feed up to 200 million each yearoin the osob more calories lost through the process of photorespiration just by crops harvested in the Midwestern US – said Donald Ort, cooroutor of the study. – Recovering even a portion of these calories globally would go a long way toward meeting the rapidly growing nutritional needs of the 21st century, fueled by population growth and high-calorie diets – added.
It is estimated that by the middle of this century, due to population growth, there will be a 60-120 percent increase in demand for food products worldwide. in porown comparison with 2005. Agriculture has not kept up with the growing number of people. Yields increase on average less than 2 percent. per year. It is highly likely that by 2050 there will be a significant shortage ofor of food.
Application of fertilizeroIn artificial, pesticideow and agricultural mechanization have increased yields over the past few decades, but their potential for future growth is limited. Add to this the problem of climate change, ktore, according to many researchers, will reduce the acreage of landoin agricultural crops on a global scale.
Photosynthesis uses the enzyme RuBisCO. With the help of sunlight, this enzyme turns carbon dioxide and water into sugars, ktore drive plant growth. Over the millennia, RuBisCO has been a victim of its own success, creating an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Unable to reliably rozroThe fertilization of these dwoch molecules, the enzyme grabs oxygen instead of carbon dioxide at about 20 percent of the. caseow. This produces a compound that is toxic to plants, whichory must be recycled through the process of photosynthesis, and this in turn costs the plant valuable energy, whichora could be used to increase the yield ofow.
– Photorespiration is anti-photosynthesis. It deprives the plant of valuable energy and resourceoin whichore could invest in photosynthesis to achieve greater growth and thus higher yields – explained Paul South, head of theowny author of the study.
Photorespiration usually follows a rather complicated pathway through three elements in the comorce of plant. Scientists have developed alternative pathways for the respiration process, drastically shortening the pathway and saving resources. As a result, tobacco has increased yields by as much as 40 percent.
– Just as the Panama Canal was an engineering feat, ktory increased the efficiency of global trade, this skrot in the process of photorespiration is a feat of plant engineering, whichory allows for a significant increase in the efficiency of photosynthesis – acknowledged Stephen Long, director of the international research project „Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency" (RIPE).
The researchers developed three alternative routes for the photorespiration process. To optimize the new pathways, they designed genetic constructs using roparticular set ofow promoterow and geneow, essentially creating a set of unique roadmaps. Researchers tested new routes on 1,700 plants. In field studies lasting more than two years, the researchers found that these modified plants grow faster, get taller and produce about 40 percent of the. more biomass.
Why tobacco? This is an ideal plant for research. It is easy to modify and test. But after successful tests with tobacco, scientists want to tackle more desirable plants, such as soybeans, rice, potatoes and tomatoes.
One important aspectoThe thing about photorespiration is that it becomes more prevalent at higher temperatures and in drought conditions. – RuBisCO has more of a problemoIn fromroThe chewing of carbon dioxide from oxygen at higher temperatures. This increases the process of photorespiration. Our goal is to build better plants thatore will be able to draw energy at higher temperatures today and in the future. We want to pomoc farmers by providing them with the technology they need to feed the world – said Amanda Cavanagh, cooauthor of the study.
The study is part of the aforementioned RIPE project, whichory aims to engineer better plants for more efficient photosynthesis. All of this in a wayob zrow equivalent to increase food production around the world. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundationow, the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research and the British government’s Department for International Development.