University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > Increasing Crop Productivity Sustainably by Bioengineering Improved Photosynthetic Efficiency

Increasing Crop Productivity Sustainably by Bioengineering Improved Photosynthetic Efficiency

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  • Carl R. Woese Institute of Genomic Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61822 , USA.
  • Lancaster Environment Centre, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ , UK,

Demand for our major crops may rise 60% by 2050. This is at a time when the increases in yield seen over the past 60 years are stagnating and global change poses a further threat to production. In reality we have little more than one crop breeding cycle in which to insure against this projected global short-fall. The approaches of the Green Revolution are now approaching their biological limits. However, photosynthesis, which is among the best known of plant processes, falls far below its theoretical efficiency in current crop genotypes. Theoretical analysis and in silico engineering have suggested a number of points at different levels of organization from metabolism to crop canopy structure where efficiency of light, nitrogen and water use could be improved1. Bioengineering, both as a means and as a test of concept, has begun to validate some of these suggested improvements with substantially greater crop productivity. This will be illustrated with specific examples from our work where increased productivity in both C3 and C4 crops has been achieved.

[1] Long S. et al. (2015) Cell 161: 56-66.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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