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Rice yields researched to tackle food security issues
Date:6/21/2010

A pioneering project in the Philippines, which aims to develop a new, higher-yielding rice plant which could ease the threat of hunger for the poor, is being led by an academic at the University of Sheffield.

Currently, more than a billion people worldwide live on less than a dollar a day and nearly one billion live in hunger. Over the next 50 years, the population of the world will increase by about 50 per cent and water scarcity will grow. About half of the worlds population consumes rice as a staple cereal, so boosting its productivity is crucial to achieving long-term global food security.

The project, which is being led by Professor Paul Quick from the University's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences and coordinated by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is hoping to considerably boost global rice production by using modern molecular tools to produce a more efficient and higher-yielding form of rice.

The work comes as the University of Sheffield launches a unique venture entitled Project Sunshine. The project aims to unite scientists in finding ways to harness the power of the sun and tackle one of the biggest challenges facing the world today: meeting the increasing food and energy needs of the worlds population in the context of an uncertain climate and global environment change.

The researchers are addressing this issue of food security by studying the mode of photosynthesis the process by which plants use solar energy to capture carbon dioxide and convert it into the carbohydrates required for growth used by rice. Unlike some plants, rice has a type of photosynthesis known as C3, in which the capture of carbon dioxide is relatively inefficient. Other plants, such as maize and sorghum, have evolved a much more efficient form of photosynthesis known as C4 and their crop yields are improved by more than 50 per cent.

Using a grant of US$11 million over three years from the Bill and
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Contact: Shemina Davis
shemina.davis@sheffield.ac.uk
01-142-225-339
University of Sheffield
Source:Eurekalert  

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