An International Group of Researchers Aim to Fix Photosynthesis
Between a growing population and changing diets, coupled with climate change leading to events like erratic rainfall, severe droughts, and the spread of pests and crop diseases, quite a bit of stress has been put on our food supply chain in recent years.
While no single solution will solve this global food crisis, an international group of researchers is aiming to make photosynthesis more efficient, according to IFLScience.com.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the US Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the UK Government’s Department for International Development, are all participating in a research program known as Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, or RIPE, which is led by the University of Illinois.
“RIPE scientists began their research by modeling the entire 170-step chemical process of turning sunlight into energy. Using computer simulations, they explored which changes might lead to the biggest increases in productivity – in the same way an efficiency expert might make improvements to a car production line to maximize output,” Bill Gates writes.
A few promising developments and discoveries have been made, including RIPE researchers discovering a way to allow plants to continue photosynthesis even with light fluctuations and speeding up Rubisco (an enzyme which captures carbon dioxide and turns it into sugar for the plant) activity in plants, which would result in higher crop productivity.
While it will still be years before these modified crops are used worldwide, Gates writes that he is “excited about the progress made by the RIPE team” and look forward “to hearing more about their discoveries in the future.”
Read more about RIPE’s work here.