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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Improved model better predicts crop yield, climate change effects

A new computer model incorporates how microscopic pores on leaves may open in response to light—an advance that could help scientists create virtual plants to predict how higher temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide will affect food crops, according to a study published in a special issue of the journal Photosynthesis Research today.

Stephen Long Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Stephen P. Long, a professor of crop sciences and plant biology at the University of Illinois, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive. He is one of 100 new members and 25 foreign associates recognized for “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

Crops in silico 2.0: Project Extended

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Crops in silico (Cis) project has received a $5 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to continue building a computational platform that integrates multiple models to study a whole plant virtually.

Nine Illinois researchers rank among world’s most influential

Nine faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2018 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list, including four from the IGB.

The list recognizes “leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences from around the world,” according to Clarivate Analytics.  It is based on an analysis of journal article publication and citation data, an objective measure of a researcher’s influence, from 2005-17.

Scientists debunk potential link to crop cold tolerance

When temperatures drop, the enzyme Rubisco that fuels plant growth and yield gets sluggish. Many crops compensate by producing more Rubisco; however, scientists speculated that some crops may lack space in their leaves to boost the production of this enzyme, making them more susceptible to cold. A new study from the University of Illinois and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology refutes this theory but found these crops are far from reaching their photosynthetic potential.

Cassava breeding hasn’t improved photosynthesis or yield potential

Cassava is a staple in the diet of more than one billion people across 105 countries, yet this “orphaned crop” has received little attention compared to popular crops like corn and soybeans. While advances in breeding have helped cassava withstand pests and diseases, cassava yields no more today than it did in 1963. Corn yields, by comparison, have more than doubled.

Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought

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.

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