Scientists Speed Up Photosynthesis, Aims To Feed More People Worldwide

The United Nations outlined that agricultural yields need to increase by 50 percent by 2050. Scientists have been developing new techniques to speed up process of photosynthesis and increase the yield to cater increasing demand.

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Superfast Photosynthesis

According to statistics of The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly 795 million people across the world sleep with an empty stomach. This shows that one in eight people is hungry. There could be many reasons for that. One of the major reasons is shortage of food. Moreover, population is growing day by day. To feed hungry people and growing population, the United Nations outlined that there is a need to increase agricultural yields by 50 percent by 2050. This urgent need to cater to ever-increasing demand for food has enabled scientists and researchers across the world to find different ways to increase the yield. They have found different approaches through which they can speed up agricultural yield.

A consortium of 12 laboratories across eight countries have found a way to accelerate crop yield of rice, and maybe wheat. They identified a way to carry out photosynthesis in efficient manner. The superfast process, known as C4 photosynthesis, grabs carbon dioxide and stores it in specialized cells in the leaves. This was a reason corn and sugarcane crops grow faster. Scientists showed that inclusion of key C4 photosynthesis genes into rice crops could perform photosynthesis process faster. Their research found that this method would increase yield of rice and wheat plants by 50 percent per hectare. In addition, it would utilize very less water and fertilizer to produce same amount of yield.

Though scientists made changes in genes of rice plants, they also need to create specialized cells in specific arrangement. They need to engineer one set of cells to grab carbon dioxide and another set of cells surrounding it to concentrate. Genome editing would help scientists modify parts of plant that are involved in the process of photosynthesis. They believe the methods implemented in reengineering genes of rice plants could be expanded to other crops such as wheat, apples, tomatoes, and others.

Scientists from Australia and the U.K. have found an approach to accelerate breeding in crops. They enhanced artificial lighting and improved conditions inside a greenhouse to speed up the growth. This technique helped in yielding a generation of wheat in only eight weeks. This would enable them to yield nearly six generations of wheat in only one year. This breakthrough would help in accelerating research in crop yields.

“Globally, we face a huge challenge in breeding higher yielding and more resilient crops,” Brande Wulff, a researcher at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, said in a news release. “Being able to cycle through more generations in less time will allow us to more rapidly create and test genetic combinations, looking for the best combinations for different environments.”

Scientists have developed a technology that utilizes LED lighting to boost photosynthesis and carefully-controlled environmental conditions to lead 22-hour daily growth. This technique could be used according to various sizes of greenhouses.

In past few years, crop research could not advance enough to offer better hybrids for several staple crops. Scientists hope that recently developed techniques would speed up the breed and give rise to further research and new breakthroughs.

It may take up to a decade or more to reach these approaches to farmers and they can utilize it practically to increase the yield of crops. But the advancements in research give hope to feed billion more people across the world.

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