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J Exp Bot. 2019 Feb 16. pii: ery445. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ery445. [Epub ahead of print]

Feeding the world: improving photosynthetic efficiency for sustainable crop production.

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NIAB EMR, New Road, East Malling, Kent, UK.
School of Biological Sciences, Wivenhoe Park, University of Essex, Colchester, UK.


A number of recent studies have provided strong support demonstrating that improving the photosynthetic processes through genetic engineering can provide an avenue to improve yield potential. The major focus of this review is on improvement of the Calvin-Benson cycle and electron transport. Consideration is also given to how altering regulatory process may provide an additional route to increase photosynthetic efficiency. Here we summarize some of the recent successes that have been observed through genetic manipulation of photosynthesis, showing that, in both the glasshouse and the field, yield can be increased by >40%. These results provide a clear demonstration of the potential for increasing yield through improvements in photosynthesis. In the final section, we consider the need to stack improvement in photosynthetic traits with traits that target the yield gap in order to provide robust germplasm for different crops across the globe.


Calvin–Benson cycle; sink capacity; synthetic biology; yield potential

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