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Art of Science 09

Sweating it Out
Sweating it Out

FLIR T1030sc Infrared Camera

Amanda Cavanagh

Donald Ort and Carl J. Bernacchi Laboratories

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the UK Department for International Development

Photosynthesis allows plants to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into sugar. In many crop plants, photosynthesis becomes more inefficient as temperatures rise. If scientists can reclaim some of this lost energy, we may be able to move closer to global food security for our growing population even as the climate changes.

To explore the relationships among temperature, photosynthetic efficiency, and plant growth, researchers have compared plant yield when the growing temperature is raised by five degrees Celsius to the yield achieved in current ambient conditions. This composite image portrays the loss of yield caused by the higher temperature.