Improving photosynthetic metabolism for crop yields: what is going to work?

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Paul, M. J. 2021. Improving photosynthetic metabolism for crop yields: what is going to work? Frontiers in Plant Science. 12 (September), p. 743862.

AuthorsPaul, M. J.

The last ten years has seen an enormous research effort in photosynthesis for crop improvement. Progress has been made in models Arabidopsis and tobacco, but demonstration of benefits in food security crops in field situations has been limited. Opinions are polarised whether the focus on photosynthesis is the right one. This article aims to develop a balanced way forward for photosynthesis research taking the view that bespoke improvements may be necessary depending on the crop and environment. Photosynthesis strongly affects the whole system with many interactions and feedbacks which must be considered in photosynthetic improvement. A recent paper (Yoon et al. 2020) overexpresses Rubisco in paddy rice with yield improvements up to 28% in field conditions. It is argued that this approach was successful because plants did not enter water deficit in the hydrated conditions and secondly nitrogen uptake was also increased to accompany increased carbon. In dry conditions combined with high
light improved photoprotection may be a better strategy. For environments that experience intermittent mild to moderate
drought representative of a lot of agriculture optimising source-sink may enable yield potential to be combined with resilience. To maximise benefits from photosynthesis research wider collaborations between teams from different backgrounds will be necessary to deliver success.

KeywordsPhotosynthesis; Crop yield improvement; Rubisco; Cereals; Source-sink
Year of Publication2021
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Journal citation12 (September), p. 743862
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDesigning Future Wheat (DFW) [ISPG]
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online21 Sep 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted24 Aug 2021
PublisherFrontiers Media SA

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