It should help biological scientists to develop crops with significantly improved yields to feed the world
How some plant species evolved super-efficient photosynthesis had been a mystery. Now, scientists have identified what steps led to that change.
Around three per cent of all plants use an advanced form of photosynthesis, which allows them to capture more carbon dioxide, use less water, and grow more rapidly. Overall this makes them over 50% more efficient than plants that use the less efficient form.
A new study has traced back the evolutionary paths of all the plants that use advanced photosynthesis, including maize, sugar cane and millet, to find out how they evolved the same ability independently, despite not being directly related to one another.
Using a mathematical analysis, the authors uncovered a number of tiny changes in the plants’ physiology that, when combined, allow them to grow more quickly; using a third as much water as other plants; and capture around thirteen times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Together, these individual evolutionary advances make up a ‘recipe’ that could be used to improve key agricultural crops that only use the less efficient form. The study’s authors say this knowledge could be used to breed super-crops such as faster growing, drought-resistant rice.
The research was led by mathematician Dr Iain Johnston from Imperial College London and plant biologist Dr Ben Williams from the University of Cambridge, and is published in the journal eLife. They came together to test whether a new mathematical model of evolution could be used to unpick the evolutionary pathways that led to the advanced photosynthesis.
“My main interest is in using tools from maths to make some concrete progress in a problem of real biological and social value,” said Dr Johnston. “Encouragingly for the efforts to design super-efficient crops, we found that several different pathways lead to the more efficient photosynthesis – so there are plenty of different recipes biologists could follow to achieve this.”
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Bacteria could one day be making medicines for us from carbon dioxideon January 18, 2020 at 3:31 am
Other methods, however, can beat photosynthesis in terms of efficiency ... and many have evolved to be super-efficient in the competition for resources. Nature has in fact, already produced ...
- Purple bacteria shine path to super-efficient light harvestingon November 1, 2016 at 4:20 am
plant life has become super-efficient at using light – and now it's showing how it does it. A quantum – minuscule – examination of chlorophyll within certain purple bacteria shows an ...
- Blue begonia sheds light on evolutionon October 25, 2016 at 5:01 am
The blue colour results from a super-efficient form of photosynthesis that allows them to use light that other plants reject. In the thick tropical forests where the begonias live, the only light ...
- Mystery of begonia's bizarre BLUE leaves solved: Metallic colour allows the plant to harvest more lighton October 24, 2016 at 9:26 am
The blue colour results from a super-efficient form of photosynthesis that allows them to use light other plants reject. These findings could help scientists develop light-harvesting devices to ...
- Researchers capture higher resolution imagery of photosynthetic large light harvesting complex Ion May 29, 2015 at 5:30 am
The work done by the researches is one more step in the long process of completely understanding photosynthesis which perhaps may one day help lead to the creation of super-efficient solar cells.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- UK aid partners with Gates Foundation to tackle global food insecurityon October 8, 2019 at 3:26 am
New funding to allow scientists to research cutting-edge technology to protect crops and produce “super crops” that will be more efficient and withstand the impacts of climate change.
- News related to ''Eco' blocks and 'super' crops: The best green innovations of the week'on July 9, 2019 at 6:38 am
Eco' blocks and 'super' crops: The best green innovations of the week Eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations that could help businesses and nations accelerate the transition to a ...
- 'Eco' blocks and 'super' crops: The best green innovations of the weekon May 23, 2019 at 4:34 pm
Eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations that could help businesses and nations accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy are emerging every week. Here, ...
- 'Super-crops' win gold at Chelsea for charity backed by the Duchess of Sussexon May 21, 2019 at 11:00 pm
A charity supported by the Duchess of Sussex has planted climate change resilient super-crops in its gold medal winning garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. The crops, which have been developed by ...
- Scientists in Dubai grow super crops that thrive in salty desertson February 28, 2019 at 4:04 pm
A worker examines seeds from quinoa plant that were harvested in Challapata, Bolivia, on May 12, 2010. Scientists in Dubai are developing crops like quinoa that can thrive in the salty soils ...