Improving photosynthesis to increase wheat yield
Exploring the diversity of wheat to discover how more efficient photosynthesis can increase yields in our elite wheat lines.
Wheat yield must increase by 1.6% each year to ensure that we can continue to feed a rapidly expanding global population that is expected to reach upwards of 9.6 billion people by 2050. To ensure that this is possible, researchers are exploring every possible avenue when it comes to producing ever more robust and high yielding wheat varieties.
One route to increase wheat yields is to improve photosynthetic efficiency, which despite its importance to plants is actually one of the most inefficient biological mechanisms on earth. It may be possible to improve our elite wheat lines by searching for the genetic markers and genes that are associated with an improved photosynthetic efficiency in diverse lines of wheat.
If these markers can be found, then this knowledge can be used to introduce greater photosynthetic efficiency in our elite wheat lines, while increasing our general understanding of the processes involved that might also improve our ability to use precision genome engineering methods going forwards.
Food security is one of the grand challenges facing us, one that is even more stark in the face of a population racing to 10 billion amidst a rapid rate of climate change.
As one of the staple crops underpinning food security and global civil society, improving wheat is absolutely crucial - and increasing photosynthetic efficiency is a strong candidate for increasing wheat yield worldwide.