Boosting wheat yield by common enzyme

08-02-2016 | |

Wheat varieties with a superior form of a common enzyme can boost wheat yields, according to new research.

Sciencedaily reports that plant scientists at Lancaster University, Rothamsted Research, and The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have been investigating a naturally occurring plant enzyme known as Rubisco to explore its ability to boost photosynthesis and increase crop yields.

The researchers measured photosynthesis in 25 genotypes of wheat–including wild relatives of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum), and found variation exists even amongst closely related genotypes. Each type was surveyed to identify superior Rubisco enzymes for improving photosynthesis.

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The forecast for world total grains (wheat and coarse grains) production in 2015/16 is 4 million tonnes lower than in the November report, at 1,992 million, down by 2% from last season’s record. This is stated in the January 2016 Grain Market Report from the International Grains Council.

2 wheat genotypes stood out

2 of the most efficient were Rubisco from plants known as Aegilops cylindrica (jointed goatgrass) and Hordeum vulgare (barley), which both showed promising Rubisco catalytic properties that should be explored in the context of improving photosynthesis, and ultimately grain yield, in wheat.

Professor Martin A. J. Parry of the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) said: “Improving the efficiency of photosynthesis–the way crops turn carbon dioxide in our atmosphere into everything we can eat–may seem ambitious but for us it offers the best opportunity for producing the scale of change in crop yield that we need to feed a growing global population in a changing world climate.”

The full research paper can be read here

Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor

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