Biologists have developed a way to genetically modify plants to boost photosynthesis. Their purpose was to acquire a better use of the natural light. Scientists have majored crop productivity with 20% by genetically modifying plants to use a greater amount of light during the process of photosynthesis. This new breakthrough could be proved to be extremely helpful in case we will experience issues with food production.
- Scientists developed a better system for plants to use the sunlight.
- They managed to implement a new technology through gene editing.
Researchers at the University of Illinois, the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley and the University of California have focused on three types of genes which plants use to protect themselves from receiving too much light, much more than they could process. Specialists have modified those genes in such a way that they managed to increase the productivity of tobacco plants by almost 20%.
The study was already published on November 17 in the Science magazine. Krishna Niyogi, who is the co-senior author but also a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Division of Molecular Biophysics and Integrative Bioimaging, has argued that tobacco plants were used as a subject in conducting this study because it is considered to be easier to analyze it.
What is more, he also claimed that he together with his team is working on developing the same genetic modifications in other food crops too. The alterations happening at the level of molecular procedures are crucial to crop plants which conduct the process of photosynthesis. Scientists are trustful when believing that the same results are expected to be obtained when this type of technology will be tested on other types of crop plants.
Niyogi is also a UC Berkeley professor of plant and microbial biology and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He, together with Stephen Long, had conducted the innovative study. Stephen Long is a plant biology and crop sciences professor at Illinois. The research has proved that plants capture an amount of energy from sunlight to engulf the CO2 from the atmosphere and then transform it into biomass, generally used for fiber, fuel, and food. This represents the process of photosynthesis which is cyclically undergone by every plant.
If the amount of sunlight is over the needed limit, then the photosynthetic tools in chloroplasts can be harmed. Thus, this is the reason why plants need to use photoprotection. The photoprotection system contains nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ). Researchers had boosted the expression of 3 genes engaged in NPQ demonstrating that NPQ could finish its process of protection more rapidly, thus they managed to boost photosynthesis, becoming more efficient in the shade.
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