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A solution for coming challenges?

Engineering light availability for crop production

In a recent perspective piece in Energy and Environmental Science, Carnegie's Arthur Grossman and Petra Redekop joined colleagues from Stanford University—Larissa Kunz, Matteo Cargnello, and Arun Majumdar—and University of Illinois Urbana Champaign's Donald Ort to argue that specially engineered lighting modifications through the use of photoluminescent material could drive a next big leap in the green revolution that started in the 1960s.

"For thousands of years, humans selectively bred plants for food, textiles, and construction," Grossman explained. "In recent decades, advanced genetic manipulation has elevated plant productivity and the quality and quantity of its biomass. But there are still engineering strategies for enhancing productivity that have not been explored."

 

Plants can convert the sun's energy into chemical energy—sugars, proteins, and fats—for food. This process, called photosynthesis, is fundamental to life as we know it on Earth.

Photosynthesis is the reason our planet's atmosphere is oxygen rich, allowing humans and other animals to breathe. It is also the baseline source of our entire food supply—directly through consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other plant products, and, for meat eaters, indirectly through consumption of animals that themselves ate plants.

What's more, photosynthetic reactions require carbon dioxide, which means that plants are taking up and sequestering some of the carbon emissions derived from human activity, which is polluting the atmosphere and causing global climate change.

However, most plants' use sunlight very inefficiently; less than 10 percent of the incident light that hits a plant's leaves is actually used for photosynthesis. This makes light exposure a good target for engineering solutions to global problems, including hunger and climate change.

Read the complete article at Phys.org 


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