Crop Biotech Update

Scientists to Increase Major Crops' Photosynthetic Efficiency for Improved Yield

December 12, 2012

Researchers from the University of Illinois in the US; Australian National University; Rothamsted Research and University of Essex in the United Kingdom, University of Shanghai in China; and the United States Department of Agriculture will attempt to improve the photosynthetic properties of key food crops by increasing their photosynthetic efficiency. The project, titled Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and has the potential to benefit farmers around the world.

Team members will apply recent advances in photosynthesis research and crop bioengineering to the RIPE project. In addition, computer simulation models of the highly complex photosynthetic system, combined with practical engineering, will identify the best targets for improving photosynthesis efficiency. The initial project emphasis will be on rice, with grain legumes and cassava as secondary targets. The said project aligns with the BMGF's Agricultural Development strategy, as it is hoped that the work will support innovation to increase sustainable crop productivity for small-holder farmers in the developing world.

For more information, visit and