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Breakthrough to measure plant improvements helps boost production

May 17, 2019

An international team is using advanced tools to develop crops that give farmers more options for sustainably producing more food on less land. To do this, thousands of plant prototypes must be carefully analyzed to figure out which genetic tweaks work best. In a special issue of the journal Remote Sensing of Environment, scientists have shown a new technology can more quickly scan an entire field of plants to capture improvements in their natural capacity to harvest energy from the sun.


May 17, 2019


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How to feed the world by 2050?

February 18, 2019

One of the most significant challenges of the 21st Century is how to sustainably feed a growing and more affluent global population with less water and fertilizers on shrinking acreage, despite stagnating yields, threats of pests and disease, and a changing climate.


February 18, 2019


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Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth 40%

January 3, 2019

Plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis; however, most crops on the planet are plagued by a photosynthetic glitch, and to deal with it, evolved an energy-expensive process called photorespiration that drastically suppresses their yield potential. Today, researchers from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report in the journal Science that crops engineered with a photorespiratory shortcut are 40 percent more productive in real-world agronomic conditions.


January 3, 2019


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RIPE project receives additional $13 million

November 20, 2018

This week, families across the U.S. will gather around Thanksgiving tables in a traditional celebration of the season’s bounty. By improving how key crops transform sunlight into yield, Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) will one day help farmers put food on more tables worldwide, especially where it is needed most.


November 20, 2018


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Scientists boost crop production by 47% by speeding up photorespiration

May 31, 2018

Plants such as soybeans and wheat waste between 20 and 50 percent of their energy recycling toxic chemicals created when the enzyme Rubisco—the most prevalent enzyme in the world—grabs oxygen molecules instead of carbon dioxide molecules. Increasing production of a common, naturally occurring protein in plant leaves could boost the yields of major food crops by almost 50 percent, according to a new study led by scientists at the University of Essex published today in Plant Biotechnology Journal.


May 31, 2018


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Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought

March 6, 2018

Agriculture already monopolizes 90 percent of global freshwater—yet production still needs to dramatically increase to feed and fuel this century’s growing population. For the first time, scientists have improved how a crop uses water by 25 percent without compromising yield by altering the expression of one gene that is found in all plants, as reported in Nature Communications.


March 6, 2018


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Scientists monitor crop photosynthesis, performance using invisible light

February 26, 2018

Twelve-foot metal poles with long outstretched arms dot a Midwestern soybean field to monitor an invisible array of light emitted by crops. This light can reveal the plants’ photosynthetic performance throughout the growing season, according to newly published research by the University of Illinois.  


February 26, 2018


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Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency

November 27, 2017

The top leaves of crops absorb far more light than they can use, starving lower leaves of light. Scientists designed plants with light green leaves with hopes of allowing more light to penetrate the crop canopy and increase overall light use efficiency and yield. This strategy was tested in a recent modeling study that found leaves with reduced chlorophyll content do not actually improve canopy-level photosynthesis, but instead, conserve a significant amount of nitrogen that the plant might be able to reinvest to improve light use efficiency and increase yield.


November 27, 2017


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Hacking evolution, screening technique may improve most widespread enzyme

November 2, 2017

Plants evolved over millions of years into an environment that has dramatically changed in the last 150 years since the Industrial Revolution began: carbon dioxide levels have increased 50 percent, and the average global temperature has increased by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit. While natural adaptation has been unable to keep up, scientists have developed tools to simulate millions of years of evolution in days to help plants adapt.


November 2, 2017


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