Plants such as soybeans and wheat waste between 20 and 50 percent of their energy recycling toxic chemicals created when the enzyme Rubisco—the most prevalent enzyme in the world—grabs oxygen molecules instead of carbon dioxide molecules. Increasing production of a common, naturally occurring protein in plant leaves could boost the yields of major food crops by almost 50 percent, according to a new study led by scientists at the University of Essex published today in Plant Biotechnology Journal.
This work is part of the international research project Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) that is supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and U.K. Department for International Development.
In this study, the team engineered a model crop to overexpress a native protein that is involved in the recycling process called photorespiration. Over two years of field trials, they found that increasing the H-protein in the plants’ leaves increases production 27 to 47 percent. However, increasing this protein throughout the plant stunts growth and metabolism, resulting in four-week-old plants that are half the size of their unaltered counterparts.
“Plant scientists have traditionally used promoters that express proteins at high levels throughout the plant, and there are many examples where this has worked really well,” said the lead author Patricia Lopez-Calcagno, a senior research officer at Essex. “But for the H-protein, we showed that more is not always better demonstrating that when we translate this method to other crop plants, we will need to tune the changes in protein to the right levels in the right tissues.”
Previous studies increased H-protein levels in Arabidopsis, a small model plant used in laboratory experiments. This is the first time that the H-protein has been evaluated in a crop in real-world growing conditions. The team used tobacco, widely considered the lab rat of plant biology because it is easy to genetically engineer and can be quickly grown and tested in outdoor field trials. Once a modification has been proven to be effective in tobacco, the same approach can be applied to food crops that are needed to feed our growing population.
“The reality is that as growing season temperatures continue to increase, the yield hit caused by photorespiration will also increase,” said co-author Paul South, a USDA-ARS postdoctoral researcher in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. “If we can translate this discovery to food crops, we can equip farmers with resilient plants capable of producing more food despite increasing temperature stress.”
Next, the team plans to increase the levels of this naturally occurring protein in soybeans, cowpeas (black-eyed peas), and cassava, a tropical root crop that is a staple for more than a billion people around the world. Their goal is to increase the yields and opportunities for farmers worldwide, particularly smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
To further increase yields, the team plans to combine this trait with others developed by the RIPE project, including a method reported in Science that boosted production by 20 percent by helping plants adapt to fluctuating light levels more quickly.
“Improvements obtained with the individual trait described here, brings us one step closer to meeting the imminent food demands of 2050—Additionally, by combining this trait with other successful traits in RIPE, we can make the yield gains needed to feed this century’s growing population,” said Principal Investigator Christine Raines, a professor of plant molecular physiology at Essex. “We are committed to developing these sustainable technologies as quickly as possible and ensuring that the farmers and communities who need them most have global access.”
Receive an email update when we add a new FOOD PRODUCTIVITY article.
The Latest on: Food productivity
via Google News
The Latest on: Food productivity
- W.P. Carey to build $75M food production facility for client on February 18, 2019 at 4:10 pm
W.P. Carey will develop a build-to-suit food production facility in San Antonio for existing tenant Cuisine Solutions. Construction on the $75 million, 290,000-square-foot facility will begin in March ... […]
- Europe's food makers find green palm oil hard to stomach on February 18, 2019 at 4:08 pm
Europe imported an estimated 7 million tonnes of palm oil in 2017, according to consultancy LMC International, with about 2.6 million tonnes of that used for food production. Anne Rosenbarger ... […]
- The global food diagnostics market size is projected to grow from USD 12.1 billion in 2018 to USD 17.1 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 7.1% on February 18, 2019 at 2:15 pm
Certain processed meat and meat products such as ham and sausages are genetically modified during the production process.Many additives commonly found in sausages and hams are often produced using met... […]
- NFU19: Food production must be priority, government told on February 18, 2019 at 9:18 am
Farm leaders have warned the government that domestic food production must be a strategic priority at what is a critical time in British history. The warning is contained in a major report due to be l... […]
- Miami’s Latest Food Hall, The Citadel, Arrives in Little River on February 18, 2019 at 9:06 am
The much-anticipated food hall boasts 15 different food and beverage outposts plus a rooftop bar, marketplace and even a radio production studio. Originally built in 1951 as a First Federal Savings & ... […]
- Hands-on food industry learning at Newport High School on February 18, 2019 at 8:20 am
General Family Consumer Science and Food Production. There is also an option to get ServSafe certified, which Bradley said will help the students become more competitive in the food industry. Jillian ... […]
- Turning By-Products Into More Nutritious Food on February 18, 2019 at 6:22 am
scientific targets for both healthy diets and sustainable food production around the world. By aligning itself with both the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement, it ... […]
- Australia's Trisco Foods sets up US operation on February 18, 2019 at 5:46 am
Trisco Foods, an Australian family-owned food production business and contract manufacturer, is setting up a US base in Colorado Springs to serve the local market. The Brisbane-based company will crea... […]
- How Behavioral Science Can Nudge Consumers Towards Sustainable Food Decisions on February 18, 2019 at 5:06 am
Food choices can have a big impact on the environment—research ... The Lancet push for sustainable dietary guidelines and the U.N. Environment calls meat production the “world’s most urgent problem.” ... […]
via Bing News