Crop Biotech Update

Less Chlorophyll to Boost Wheat Yields

July 23, 2014

University of Western Australia (UWA) is repeating wheat experiments done five decades ago to see if lower chlorophyll levels promote greater grain yields. Adjunct Professor John Hamblin and team prepared for trials using wheat varieties with very low chlorophyll.

Professor Hamblin offers four possible reasons why low-chlorophyll wheat might be more productive. First, leaves naturally produce shade, depriving competing plants of light. This is a useful adaptation in nature but a disadvantage in crops, where growers want minimal competition between neighbours. Second, harvesting excessive light damages chloroplasts, and repairing damaged chloroplasts uses extra energy. Third, capturing excess light causes plants to heat up. He said that a heated leaf needs more water to survive. The fourth reason is that chloroplasts are full of all sorts of goodies.

For more information about Professor Hamblin's work, read the UWA news release at http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/agriculture/item/2941-wheat-possibilities-lower-chlorophyll-to-boost-yields.