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Discovery Brings Scientists One Step Closer to Crops with Twice the Yields
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: November 19, 2017 08:37AM

Scientists from Wageningen University and Research have found natural
genetic variation for photosynthesis in plants and are unravelling it to the
DNA level. Led by Mark Aarts and Jeremy Harbinson, the research team has
shown that thale cress has various genes involved in adaptation to the
changes in the amount of light to which plants are exposed.

A gene that has been studied in detail is the Yellow Seedling 1 gene, which
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


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