New research from China demonstrated a novel technique to enhance photosynthetic efficiency in rice crops that can increase grain yields by up to 27%
Researchers are focused on developing food bioengineering designed to enhance worldwide food productivity by improving the photosynthesis process in crops since recent past. Enhancing the efficiency of photosynthesis is a major challenge in bioengineering plants to increase yield. From 20 to 50 percent of the energy a plant produces through photosynthesis can be diverted into a process called photorespiration. Plants generate the chemical energy by utilizing carbon dioxide molecules from the surrounding environment. However, around 25 percent of the time the plant incorrectly collects oxygen molecules, creating a plant-toxic byproduct that disrupts the entire photosynthesis process, and ultimately releases carbon dioxide.
The study conducted by team of scientists in China demonstrated a different strategy to increase a plant's energy efficiency. This technique diverts carbon dioxide produced during photorespiration to photosynthesis. The process called GOC utilizes three enzymes to convert a molecule called glycolate into carbon dioxide. In field tests using rice crops the results were impressive, with the GOC bypass plants displaying overall grain yield improvements of between 7 and 27 percent. Photorespiratory rates were suppressed up to 31% and net photosynthetic rates increased up to 22 percent. The researchers suggest these results can be further optimized through larger field testing and experimenting with different rice varieties.
Furthermore, researchers will work on investigating if the technique applies to other food crops such as potatoes. Optimizing rice is a major focus for many scientists across the world, as it is the third-largest crop, after wheat and maize. Recent innovations revealed new techniques to make rice more drought-resistant and environmentally friendly. However, this is the first demonstration of a more photosynthetically efficient form of the crop. The new study was published in the journal Molecular Plant in January 2019.
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