Navigation
Suscribe
Menu Search Facebook Twitter
Search Close
Menu ALL SECTIONS
  • Capital Coahuila
  • Capital Hidalgo
  • Capital Jalisco
  • Capital Morelos
  • Capital Oaxaca
  • Capital Puebla
  • Capital Quintana Roo
  • Capital Querétaro
  • Capital Veracruz
  • Capital México
  • Capital Michoacán
  • Capital Mujer
  • Reporte Índigo
  • Estadio Deportes
  • The News
  • Efekto
  • Diario DF
  • Capital Edo. de Méx.
  • Green TV
  • Revista Cambio
Radio Capital
Pirata FM
Capital Máxima
Capital FM
Digital
Prensa
Radio
TV
X
Newsletter
Facebook Twitter
X Welcome! Subscribe to our newsletter and receive news, data, statistical and exclusive promotions for subscribers
World

Hacking Plants to Increase Sunlight Efficency

Think of it as photosynthesis on steroids

In this photo provided by Katarzyna Glowacka, University of Illinois, a fluorescence imager analyzes how efficiently plants use light, photo: AP/ University of Illinois
9 months ago

WASHINGTON — Scientists have hacked a plant’s genes to make it use sunlight more efficiently — a breakthrough that could eventually dramatically increase the amount of food grown.

Think of it as photosynthesis on steroids. Photosynthesis is how plants convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into food. But it’s a very inefficient process, using less than 1 percent of the energy available, scientists said.

By genetically modifying part of the plant’s protective system, which kicks into gear when too much sunlight beams down, scientists were able to increase leaf growth between 14 and 20 percent in experiments with tobacco plants, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

“Now that we know it works, it won’t be too difficult to do it with other crops,” said study lead author Stephen Long, a professor of crop sciences at the University of Illinois. “If you look at crops around the world, it would (increase yield) many million tons of food.”

That’s still at least 15 years away, but this is the first time scientists have been able to do something like this, Long said.

A plant’s protective system is like a pressure relief valve in a steam engine. When there’s too much sunlight, it turns on and gets rid of excess energy safely. When the plant is in the shade, the protective system turns off, but not quickly, said study co-author Krishna Niyogi, a plant scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California, Berkeley.

Long said the protective system regulates sunlight in much the same way light-adjusting glasses darken and lighten. But it takes 10 minutes to an hour for plants to adjust, so the plant doesn’t get the optimal amount of energy, especially when it goes back into sunlight. So Long and his team genetically modified the plant to turn that protection system off and on faster.

Two different plants in the experiment increased leaf growth by 20 percent and a third by 14 percent. Long said he used tobacco because it is easy to manipulate the genetics, but there is no reason it can’t work with rice, corn and other seed-oriented foods. Maybe the yield increase would be only 10 percent, he said.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln agriculture professor Tala Awanda said the study makes sense, but cautioned the yield might not be quite so high for conventional food crops. Still, he added in an email, “this study remains a breakthrough.”

 

SETH BORENSTEIN

Comments Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
More From The News
World

Van Plows into Crowd in Barcelona; Polic ...

35 mins ago
Mexico

Transport Workers in Morelos Now Able to ...

1 hour ago
Business

Global Stocks Slip as Investors Digest C ...

3 hours ago
World

One Million South Sudan Refugees Now in ...

3 hours ago
Most Popular

Israeli Leader Criticized for Response t ...

By The Associated Press
World

Defiant Trump Again Blames 'Both Sides' ...

By The Associated Press
World

A Chronicle of Nota Roja in Mexico

By Guillermo Verduzco
Living

Global Stocks Slip as Investors Digest C ...

By The Associated Press
Business

Young Leaders of Massive 2014 Hong Kong ...

By The Associated Press
World