How much improves photosynthesis to the yield of crops?

How much improves photosynthesis to the yield of crops?

Dr. Alex Wu conducts research in a wheat field. Credit: ARC Center of Excellence for translational photosynthesis

In the next two decades, crop yields must increase dramatically to feed the growing world population. Would not it be incredibly useful if we had a crystal ball to show us what are the best strategies available to increase crop yields?

A team of scientists has just developed exactly that: a dynamic model that predicts what photosynthetic manipulations of plants will increase the yields of wheat and sorghum crops.

"We have developed a reliable and biologically rigorous prediction tool that can quantify the yield increases badociated with the manipulation of photosynthesis in realistic crop environments," said Dr. Alex Wu of the ARC Center of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis (CoETP). ) and the University of Queensland. (UQ)

Plants convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into food through photosynthesis and several studies have shown that this vital process can be designed to be more efficient.

"Until now, it has been difficult to badess the impacts of these manipulations on crop yields, and this prediction tool will help us find new ways to improve the yields of food crops around the world."

Dr. Wu, the main author of the article published this week in the magazine. Plants of nature, said that this modeling tool has the ability to link through biological scales from the biochemistry in the leaf to the entire field crop during a growing season, through the integration of photosynthesis and crop models.

"It is a powerful tool to evaluate and guide photosynthetic manipulations and unravel the effects that confuse the relationship between photosynthetic efficiency and crop yield," he said.

The center's deputy director, Professor Susanne von Caemmerer, said that one of the most innovative aspects of the study was to use a scale modeling approach to observe the interactions between photosynthesis and leaf pores that allow the exchange of CO2 and water vapor.

"We know that it is not as simple as saying that improving photosynthesis will increase performance, the answer depends on the situation," said Professor von Caemmerer, a researcher at the National University of Australia (ANU) who is coauthor of the study. .

How much improves photosynthesis to the yield of crops?

Dr. Alex Wu doing research in the field. Credit: ARC Center of Excellence for translational photosynthesis

"For example, we found that in crops such as sorghum, increased photosynthesis can actually decrease yields in water limited crop situations, modeling predicts that we can administer this performance penalty if we can also maintain a stable rate of income. carbon dioxide, or water. " Steam output, the pores of a leaf ".

The co-author and head researcher at the center, Professor Graeme Hammer of UQ, said that this study fosters the kind of transdisciplinary research necessary for the future improvement of crops.

"It links research throughout the Center, which has a primary focus to increase the yield of major staple crops such as wheat, rice, sorghum and corn by improving photosynthesis."

"Now that we have developed and tested this predictive model, our next step is to work closely with CoETP partners to design simulation scenarios that test the effects of other bioengineering and reproductive traits," said Professor Hammer.

One of those collaborators is Professor Graham Farquhar of the ANU, who is a co-author of the study.

"In this study we are expanding the season of crop growth and incorporating the feedback effects on the photosynthesis of resources for cultivation, such as water, which is fundamental to predict the consequences on crop productivity in future environments of cultivation in Australia, "said the Head of the Center. Researcher Professor Farquhar of the School of Research of Biology ANU.

The team investigated three main objectives of manipulation of photosynthesis: to improve the activity of the main photosynthetic enzyme, Rubisco; improve the ability of the sheets to transport electrons; and improve the flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) through the inner layers of the sheet.

"This study allows us to quantify the consequences on crop yields for these three objectives and their combinations for wheat and sorghum crops for irrigated or rainfed growing environments," said Dr. Wu.

The team found that changes in crop yield ranged from a 1% reduction to an increase of 12%, depending on the combination of photosynthetic targets, crop and environmental conditions, such as water availability.

Designing a more productive corn capable of dealing with future climates.

More information:
Quantifying the impacts of improving photosynthesis in crop yield, Plants of nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41477-019-0398-8,

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University of Queensland

How much improves photosynthesis to the yield of crops? (2019, April 8)
Accessed on April 8, 2019.

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