Illinois plant biology professor Stephen P. Long and his collaborators have engineered sugarcane so that it accumulates oil in its stems that can be made into biodiesel. They now have an “oilcane” that accumulates 2 percent oil by weight, and their research suggests they can eventually raise this to 20 percent. Their work will be exhibited at the 2015 Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. Long spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the implications for food and biofuels.
Transnational rice study on photosynthesis could improve international food security
University of Illinois researchers established the university's first rice paddy to test rice performance in Illinois and at Kyoto University in Japan. The two plots, which were planted on the same date, should reveal clues about what factors help the plants more efficiently convert the sun’s energy into food, known as photosynthetic performance.
Don Ort, Professor of Plant Biology, with Stephen Long, Professor of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology, discuss corn belt yield limits in a recent perspective in Science magazine.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a five–year, $25-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the photosynthetic properties of key food crops, including rice and cassava. The project, titled “RIPE – Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency,” has the potential to benefit farmers around the world by increasing productivity of staple food crops.