Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Shut off Plant's Sunshield to Boost Productivity

November 23, 2016

An international team of scientists successfully boosted the productivity of plants by altering mechanisms involved in photosynthesis. The result of their proof-of-concept study is published in the journal Science.

The scientists targeted three genes in tobacco plants which are involved in sunshield. These genes are responsible in protecting the plant from bright sunlight by converting photons into harmless heat. However, the plant reacts slowly to changing light intensity, causing losses in productivity. To improve photosynthesis, the researchers increased the expressions of the three genes, leading to 14 to 20% increase in productivity of modified tobacco plants in field conditions. This is a giant leap since plant breeders find it hard to achieve 1 to 2% gains through conventional techniques.

The scientists are currently altering photosynthesis in elite varieties of food crops such as rice and corn.

Know more about the study by watching the video from Science. More information is also published in the websites of University of Illinois and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.