Another astonishing milestone for the world today! Experts have successfully created genetically modified plants that optimize photosynthesis a lot greater than normal plants.
Professor Stephen Long is the leader of the groundbreaking agricultural research at the University of Illinois. His team and other experts believe that this breakthrough might be the answer to the globe's increasing demand for food.
Promising results were first seen in genetically modified tobacco plants. In the trial, GM plants were taller, had stronger roots, and had a higher percentage of healthy leaves.
How the researchers made it happen is just brilliant! They adjusted a process in plant's photosynthesis. In the experiments, they focus on nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ), where light is transmitted to energy and then to heat.
Like how the pupil of the eye responds to light, NPQ happens similarly in plants. NPQ, when switched on gets energy from light, and switches off when there's an absence of light.
“When a cloud crosses the sun, or a leaf goes into the shade of another, it can take up to half an hour for that NPQ process to relax,” Long explained. “In the shade, the lack of light limits photosynthesis, and NPQ is also wasting light as heat.”
The research team managed to make the NPQ process a lot faster to switch on, which make photosynthesis more efficient for plants. It's the reason why GM plants are bigger and healthier compared to non-GM ones.
However, the modification cannot be applied to all sorts of crops. Also, the result of modification could vary depending on the type of plants.
Fortunately, the Gates Foundation is now funding the research team to apply the process to other major crops. Reports
say, the team will begin experimenting on strains of rice, soya bean, and cassava.
I guess after a few years, we can have bigger fries in our favorite fast food chains. What could be more awesome! Thank you, science!