- Medior Sales Engineer - Netherlands
- Quality Assurance Team EA Region - Antwerp - Quality Assurance Supervisor
- General Manager Australia
- Head of Sales for Mexico and Latin America
- Сhief agronomist
- Chief plant protection agronomist
- Finance Manager for a Leading International Fresh Produce Business
- Sales Consultants Fertilizer - various European countries
- Product & Efficiency Manager - Role Based in Holland with regular trips to the UK
- Highly Experienced Agribusiness Professional now Available
Top 5 -yesterday
Top 5 -last month
Top 5 -last week
One step closer to crops with twice the yield
Led by Mark Aarts and Jeremy Harbinson, a team of scientists has shown that thale cress (a common model plant) has various genes involved in the adaptation to changes in the amount of light to which plants are exposed. Their study is published in an article in Nature Communications.
One gene has already been studied in detail. Known as the Yellow Seedling 1 gene, it is involved in the adaptation of chloroplasts to light changes. Due to a variation in this gene, some thale cress plants can handle an increase of light (the difference between a cloudy and a sunny day, for example) better than others. It is the first time that this variation has been found in thale cress, but as the genes for photosynthesis occur in nearly all plant species, the scientists expect that a similar variation can be found in many other crops too.
The discovery shows that it is possible to improve photosynthesis based on natural genetic variation, something which was doubted until now. In the long term, breeding on improved photosynthesis could make crops produce more yield with the same amount of soil, water and nutrients. This brings the concept of ‘more’ (yield) ‘with less’ (soil, water and nutrients) one step closer.
Some plants adapt their photosynthesis system
Plants need light to convert CO2 and water into sugars and oxygen. The sugars form the basis and energy source for all the substances that a plant produces in order to grow. We have known for some time that plants can respond differently to light, as is shown in the efficiency of their photosynthesis. The ancestors of the crops we eat on a daily basis needed this variation to make the best use of the places in which they grew. It allowed them to develop both in full sunlight and in the shade of other plants.
While photosynthesis is an essential process for plants, it comes at a risk and demands a high level of control to manage energy streams. If a plant is suddenly exposed to too much light, it has to adapt to the new situation. Plants generally protect themselves against excessive photosynthesis by maintaining various safety margins, which means that the adaptation takes several days. The study by the Wageningen scientists now shows that some plants can adapt quicker than others, and are thus able to adapt their photosynthesis system to their environment sooner.
Selection on photosynthesis in breeding
Nowadays, we breed crops in an environment that is far easier to control than the original natural conditions. For example, plants now get sufficient nutrients and water, aligned to maximum growth. Due to the fast developments in agriculture over the past century, plants have not yet been able to adapt to these new conditions. One could say they are still cautious and respond relatively slowly to sudden changes such as excessive light. Plants which can adapt to changing light conditions faster will be able to use the available water and nutrients more efficiently, eventually producing a higher yield.
So how come there is so little selection on more efficient photosynthesis in breeding? It was long thought that photosynthesis was naturally optimised and that little could be gained in breeding. Moreover, it is very difficult to measure the genetic contribution to the variation of photosynthesis of plants in the field, making it difficult to select on photosynthesis without prior knowledge. As photosynthesis is so sensitive to weather conditions, variations in the field – even between genetically identical plants – are often substantial.
“We carried out our experiments under tightly controlled conditions, allowing us to keep variation in the environmental factors to a minimum,” says Aarts. “We then measured the photosynthesis of all plants in the experiment at various times of day and via an identical method, and only applied a single stress factor: a one-off increase in the amount of light. This allowed us to precisely determine the genetic contribution to how plants adapted to the new stressful situation. We used one of the genes we found to study the variation in DNA sequence between the various plants in detail.”
New crop varieties
The findings offer breeding companies new opportunities. We now know that plants respond to light variation in their own way, and that this is determined in their DNA. We don’t yet know how these adaptations work in the plant, however, and more research is required to find out how improved photosynthesis affects the growth of the plant before we can focus on selection for this property.
Source: Wageningen University & Research
Publication date :
Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here
Other news in this sector:
- 10/15/2018 Agroecology could help feed Europe without pesticides by 2050
- 10/11/2018 "Make growing easier with fewer drawbacks"
- 10/11/2018 UK: Sharing is caring with Next Generation Growing (NGG) techniques
- 10/11/2018 Netherlands: Demonstration fossil-free tomato cultivation begins
- 10/11/2018 Plant Empowerment book officially launched at CGC
- 10/09/2018 Grant recipients to study produce and bee pollination
- 10/03/2018 Turkey: Growers recoup their losses with zucchini production
- 10/01/2018 Imaginative Chinese statue: Rooster made out of peppers and corn
- 10/01/2018 Turkey: Grower in Antalya switches from tomato and pepper to dragon fruit
- 10/01/2018 "Empower your plants and your business"
- 09/27/2018 ‘2018 is one of the hardest growing seasons ever’
- 09/26/2018 US: Fredericton sees giant 1,808-pound pumpkin
- 09/25/2018 Shout-out to the bell pepper
- 09/24/2018 UK: Optimising flavour in parsley and rosemary
- 09/24/2018 Grapes and algae - China's new weapons against desertification
- 09/24/2018 UK: Optimising flavour in mint
- 09/24/2018 Saving the prized chile that grows only in Oaxaca’s mountains
- 09/24/2018 Kim Jong Un presents South Korea with two tons of Pine mushrooms
- 09/21/2018 Growers in autonomous cucumber greenhouse are doing well
- 09/21/2018 How to minimize downtime between hydroponic crop cycles