Researchers from the University of Illinois have developed a model that
treats photosynthesis as a dynamic process rather than an activity that
either is or is not happening, allowing the group to examine the impacts
of light fluctuations that crop leaves experience due to intermittent
clouds, overlying leaves, and the sun's daily passage across the sky.
These light fluctuations are the norm in today's densely planted crops.
Lower efficiency of photosynthesis due to slow adjustment to light
changes and are estimated to cost up to 40 percent of potential
productivity. If crop leaves could be genetically manipulated to adjust
more rapidly, then the gain in productivity and efficiency of water use
would be substantial.
"When light changes, the plants need time to get used to it. It takes
time and decreases efficiency," said Yu Wang, a postdoctoral researcher
at Illinois, who led this work for a research project called Realizing
Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). In a recent study, RIPE
researchers have shown that by treating photosynthesis as a dynamic
process, they could improve the response time of C4 plants, (plants that
use C4 carbon fixation for photosynthesis) such ascorn, to adjust more
rapidly to fluctuations in light.
First, the research team validated their model against actual
photosynthesis measurements in fluctuating light, which they made in
corn, sorghum, andsugarcane. They then used their model to predict which
steps in photosynthesis limited the response of the process to
fluctuations in light in the three crops. By treating photosynthesis as
a dynamic process, the researchers were able to identify the segments of
the process that limit the speed of response. Through their modeling and
simulation, they identified two proteins they believe are essential in
Dynamic photosynthesis model simulates 10-20 percent yield increase |