Cassava breeding hasn’t improved photosynthesis or yield potential

RIPE researchers analyzed four cassava cultivars preferred by African farmers and found unimproved varieties photosynthesize better than varieties selected for improved pest and disease resistance.

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Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought

Agriculture already monopolizes 90 percent of global freshwater--yet production still needs to dramatically increase to feed and fuel this century's growing population. For the first time, scientists have improved how a crop uses water by 25 percent without compromising yield by altering the expression of one gene that is found in all plants, as reported in Nature Communications.

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Plagued by pest, African farmers may soon have access to insect-resistant GMO cowpeas—for free

A project begun nearly 15 years ago is finally coming to fruition, as Nigeria is poised to become the first country to release a genetically modified variety of insect-resistant cowpeas to farmers.

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The photosynthesis fix

As world food needs rise, so does the need for faster, more efficient plant growth. Bypassing an error-prone enzyme is one way to do it.

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Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency

Scientists designed plants with light green leaves with hopes of allowing more light to penetrate the crop canopy and increase overall light use efficiency and yield. This strategy was tested in a recent modeling study that found leaves with reduced chlorophyll content do not actually improve canopy-level photosynthesis, but instead, conserve a significant amount of nitrogen that the plant might be able to reinvest to improve light use efficiency and increase yield.

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Hacking evolution, screening technique may improve most widespread enzyme

Plants evolved over millions of years into an environment that has dramatically changed in the last 150 years since the Industrial Revolution began: carbon dioxide levels have increased 50 percent and the average global temperature has increased by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit. While natural adaptation has been unable to keep up, scientists have developed tools to simulate millions of years of evolution in days to help plants adapt.

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Cowpea protected from a devastating pest, free for smallholder African farmers

Across Africa, armies of hungry caterpillars destroy the flowers and pods of cowpeas; casualties can reach 80 percent of this staple food crop if no measures are taken. But the real victims are smallholder African farmers who feed their families on farms smaller than five acres. Next year, they will have the option to grow cowpeas that are resistant to one of these pests.

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Science is More Than Labcoats: Clearing Plant Bottlenecks to Feed the World with Katherine Meacham

You may be aware of bottlenecks in your work environment, but did you know that even plants have bottlenecks? What if there was a productivity coach for plants? Someone who could give them all of the secrets to being faster, greener and more productive? Someone who could whisper secrets into plant DNA so that they could transform sunlight into a bigger, better plant self…to be eaten by humans of course.

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45 million dollars given to U of I research group

Researchers at the U of I are trying to end world hunger and they just got 45 million dollars to help them do it.

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The time is RIPE to transform agriculture and feed the world

University of Illinois receives grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FFAR, and DFID to catalyze photosynthetic improvements, increase yields for farmers worldwide

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