Five new research projects announced today (27 September) by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) aim to overcome some of the fundamental limitations of photosynthesis the process by which plants harvest energy from the sun. This research could lead to major increases in crop yields for food, bioenergy and the production of renewable chemicals.
Just over 2M has been provided for these projects which complement four funded last year via an 'Ideas Lab' in collaboration with the National Science Foundation in the USA.
Together, the nine research projects span the whole photosynthetic pathway, from the shape of the crop canopy and the structure of individual leaves through to light capture at the molecular level and the production and storage of sugars.
The world faces significant challenges in the coming decades, and chief among these are producing enough sustainable and affordable food for a growing population and replacing diminishing fossil fuels. Even a small change to the efficiency of photosynthesis the process by which plants, algae and some bacteria use the sun's energy to make sugars could allow for considerably increased yields for food and bioenergy crops and so could make a huge impact on these problems.
Science Minister David Willetts said: "Food security is an important issue for governments and researchers worldwide, and it's great to see UK scientists contributing to such a valuable body of international research. If we can gain a better understanding of the scientific processes underlying food production, we are a significant step closer to being able to support an increasing global population in future."
Biochemist Professor Richard Cogdell FRS from the University of Glasgow acted as a mentor for the Ideas Lab and was a member of the assessment panel for this call for applications. He said "Trying to improve photosynthesis is challenging both scientifically in itself an
|Contact: Mike Davies|
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council