Optimizing Canopies

Crops are cultivated at high density to achieve maximum yield. This causes the plants to grow together forming a canopy that becomes so dense light is unable to penetrate to the lower leaves.  The upper canopy leaves receive more light than they are able to use for photosynthesis and the lower canopy leaves receive less light than they could use.  

Computer simulations suggest that making the upper canopy leaves lighter and more erect, while making the lower leaves darker and more horizontal would allow higher levels of photosynthesis lower in the canopy, greatly increasing canopy photosynthesis and therefore yield. The simulations also suggest that crops produce too many leaves. RIPE is both engineering and selecting for these optimized canopy forms.  

Obstacles to implementation: This is seen a medium risk since artificial manipulations to form optimal canopies have already resulted in increased yield. 


Lisa Ainsworth
Carl Bernacchi
Amanda Cavanagh
Deepak Jaiswal
Steve Long
Donald Ort headshot
Paul South
Yu Wang
Xinguang Zhu
rice

Boosting photosynthesis to feed the world

In the next 50 years, the human population and global affluence—both major drivers of agricultural demand—are only expected to increase; researchers estimate that food production will need to grow by 60 to 120 percent by mid-century to keep pace. 

photosynthesis

Lighter colored upper leaves may be crop ‘photosynthesis hack’

Researchers are determining ways to boost crop production through expanding benefits of photosynthesis and understanding how plants react with light.

Person walking down a dirt road toward a mountain shrouded in clouds.

Better-bred crops could send global warming out to space

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