Feed the World: Supercharged Photosynthesis Could Boost Crop Production

Scientists have found an enzyme that turns CO2 into sugar faster for higher crop yields.
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Scientists have found an enzyme that turns CO2 into sugar faster for higher crop yields.
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Photo Credit: Flickr/Parker Knight

Researchers seem to have found a way to boost food production. A team from Cornell University and Rothamsted Research in the UK have completed two of three necessary steps to turbocharge photosynthesis in crops like wheat and rice. The process could help boost crop yields by 36 to 60 percent for a variety of plants.

The scientists used genes from a bacteria called cyanobacteria and transplanted them into tobacco plants, which are commonly used in this type of research. With the genes, the plants are able to produce a more efficient enzyme that converts carbon dioxide into sugars and other carbohydrates.

However, these types of advances won't pop up in commercially grown food for at least five to 10 years. MIT Technology Review notes that food production at that scale would require 10 to 15 genes, and scientists would have to ensure each of these genes is stable. 

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