Press Releases

Researchers stand in field trials.

Scientists boost crop production by 47 percent by speeding up photorespiration

RIPE has increased crop production 27 to 47 percent by speeding up a process called photorespiration.

Cassava seedlings grow in a black seed tray.

Cassava breeding hasn’t improved photosynthesis or yield potential

RIPE found unimproved varieties of cassava photosynthesize better than those selected for improved pest and disease resistance.

Stoma

Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought

As reported in Nature Communications, RIPE has improved how a crop uses water by 25 percent—without compromising yield—by altering the expression of one gene.

soybeans

Hacking evolution, screening technique may improve most widespread enzyme

Scientists have developed tools to simulate millions of years of evolution in days to help plants adapt to changing conditions. 

Long, Ort

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

crops in field

New 3D model predicts best planting practices for farmers

As farmers survey their fields this summer, several questions come to mind: How many plants germinated per acre? How does altering row spacing affect my yields? Does it make a difference if I plant my rows north to south or east to west? Now a computer model can answer these questions by comparing billions of virtual fields with different planting densities, row spacings, and orientations.

field day

Mark your calendar for the 2017 Food & Fuel Field Day

Media, industry and policymakers are invited to see the plants that could help feed and fuel the world by 2050 and meet the scientists who engineered them at the 2017 Food & Fool Field Day on Thursday, July 13, at the University of Illinois Energy Farm. This free, day-long event will be held rain or shine with intimate round-table discussions, hands-on field tours and robot demonstrations, and one-on-one interviews.

don ort

RIPE Deputy Director elected to NAS

RIPE Associate Director Donald Ort is among four University of Illinois professors elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year.

team

Newly characterized protein has potential to save U.S. farmers millions annually

Instead of turning carbon into food, many plants accidentally make a plant-toxic compound during photosynthesis that is recycled through a process called photorespiration. University of Illinois and USDA/ ARS researchers report in Plant Cell the discovery of a key protein in this process, which they hope to manipulate to increase plant productivity.

soybean

Soybean plants with fewer leaves yield more

Using computer model simulations, scientists predicted fewer leaves could boost yields and confirmed it works in real-world field trials—increasing soybean production by 8%. This yield gain, which far surpasses the one percent average, is needed to produce 70-100% more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9.7 billion people.

Tapestry of Hope

Tapestry of Hope

Sweat sneaks beneath Kasia’s sunglasses as she tiptoes around the carefully organized research plots, orchestrated using GPS technology. The tiny plants reach up to grasp the sun, creating a mosaic of greens and yellows as they grow and mature, a tapestry of hope for the researchers who have cared and cultivated them.

Illustration of modified and non-modified plants.

Scientists tweak photosynthesis and boost crop yield, proving it can be done

Researchers report in the journal Science that they can increase plant productivity by boosting levels of three proteins involved in photosynthesis.

root

Researchers root for more cassava research

Cassava makes up nearly 50 percent of the diet in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, where populations are projected to increase by more than 120% in the next 30 years. With stagnant yields for the last half century, scientists realize the need to focus their efforts on this crop now.

gene

Rapid gene analysis method accelerates photosynthesis studies

In a recent study, researchers used a rapid screening technique that genetically engineers plants--in real time--to investigate how to help plants realize their full potential on cloudy days.

David Drag

David Drag: Cultivating Food Security

David Drag is not a stranger to hard work; everyday in the field or greenhouse presents a new challenge. “Sensors need to be cleaned, plants need to be watered and harvested—greenhouse work is a full time job,” he says.

Steve Long

Steve Long: Making nature more efficient

For 40 years Steve Long has been doing ground-breaking work - at molecular, biochemical and physiological level - in the lab and the field, and on the computer.

crop

One crop breeding cycle from starvation

In the race against world hunger, we’re running out of time. By 2050, the global population will have grown and urbanized so much that we will need to produce 87 percent more of the four primary food crops – rice, wheat, soy, and maize – than we do today.

Liana

Liana Acevedo-Siaca: Utilizing rice to achieve food security

Acevedo-Siaca named U.S. Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security at International Rice Research Institute.

wheat

Enzymes with the potential to increase wheat yields

Wheat yields could be significantly increased thanks to varieties with a superior form of a common enzyme, according to new RIPE research.

crops

Team calls for an integrated field research network in the Midwest to address climate adaptation

Despite record-high yields of corn and soybean across the United States in 2014, climate scientists warn that rising temperatures and future extreme weather may soon put crop yields like this in danger.

Orr

Doug Orr: Enzyme Hunter

“We’re deliberately looking at a very diverse range of plants, and we aim to look at a few forests' worth of different plant species in our search for a better Rubisco.”

Amanda De Souza

Amanda De Souza: Engineering hope for millions

Amanda de Souza cradles a plastic petri dish in her hands. Tiny plants press against the lid; their roots form a delicate web. It’s hard to imagine that hope for millions of people may lie inside something so small, so seemingly fragile.

greenhouse

Researchers bring new life to campus greenhouse

Situated next to the University of Illinois’s Plant Core Facility on Dorner Drive, a once state-of-the-art controlled environment greenhouse and laboratory sat unused until now.

Photosynthesis

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed the world by 2050

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in the journal Cell.

enzyme assembly

A protein “chaperone” that is key to achieving enhanced crop yield

Australian scientists have found a way to improve production of an enzyme essential to plant growth. The discovery advances efforts to improve global food security that aim to increase the yields of some of our most important staple crops, such as wheat, cotton and rice.

study

lllinois study may improve rice productivity

University of Illinois researchers established the university's first rice paddy to test rice performance in Illinois and at Kyoto University in Japan. The two plots, which were planted on the same date, should reveal clues about what factors help the plants more efficiently convert the sun's energy into food, known as photosynthetic performance.

kumar/long

Computer model amounts to a lot more than a hill of beans

Crops that produce more while using less water seem like a dream for a world with a burgeoning population and already strained food and water resources.

long

Team models photosynthesis and finds room for improvement

Teaching crop plants to concentrate carbon dioxide in their leaves could increase photosynthetic efficiency by 60 percent.

Steve Long

Team Models Photosynthesis and Finds Room for Improvement

Teaching crop plants to concentrate carbon dioxide in their leaves could increase photosynthetic efficiency by 60 percent.

Don Ort, Steve Long

University of Illinois to improve crop yield through photosynthesis in a new global effort

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a five–year, $25-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the photosynthetic properties of key food crops, including rice and cassava.