Getting 15% higher plant yield from the same sunlight

These are the sorts of genetically modified organisms that could really help farmers. And it really uses a more targeted version of what hybridizers have always done – increase the copy number of certain genes.

Genetic breakthrough: Crops use more sunlight to grow
[Via BBC News – Science & Environment]

A genetic technique makes plants produce more food from sunlight – a key step in feeding the growing global population, scientists say.


Plants do not efficiently convert sunlight when there are clouds. This is because they have a mechanism to protect themselves from too much sunlight. They release the energy as heat rather than for making food. This process stays on, even when the amount of sunlight decreases due to clouds.

TSo what these guys did is increase the number of copies of proteins involved in this hear switch, allowing the plant to turn the switch from food to heat faster when clouds appear.

This resulted in a 15% increase in yield, which can be huge.

In the old days, researchers would incubate seeds in harsh chemicals that worked to increase the number of genes throughout the genome of the plat. They would then select for ones that they wanted, without knowing just what they had changed.

Here, they were specific in  what they changed, resulting in a plant that is actually more fully defined than if done by the old process.

This is a much better way to create GMO as it helps the customer. Let’s hope that is what eventually happens.

Image: Toshiyuki IMAI