Relaxing Photoprotection

Although light is fundamental for photosynthesis to take place, high light intensity can actually damage the plant, much like how high light intensity can cause us to sunburn. To avoid this, plants have several photo-protective mechanisms that protect them by siphoning off any extra light energy as heat. However, when the leaf is shaded, this protective process can inhibit photosynthesis for several minutes to several hours.  

One of these photoprotection mechanisms that plants use to get deal with excess light is called non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). NPQ turns on rapidly at high light intensity; however, it is slow to turn off when light becomes limited, such as when a cloud passes overhead. As a result, photosynthetic efficiency decreases as the plant adjusts to the lower light intensity. The RIPE project is speeding up the plant’s recovery rate in shade—allowing the plant to photosynthesize more efficiently as the light intensity fluctuates throughout the day.

Jose Barrero headshot
Steven Burgess headshot
Elsa de Becker
Lynn Doran Headshot
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TJ Higgins
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Armen Kelikian
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Steve Long
Nina M. Maryn
Kris Niyogi
Dhruv Patel
Julia Walter
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ORHS grad's research might boost food production

Kris Niyogi, an Oak Ridge High School graduate, led more than 10 years of research at Berkeley, Calif., that resulted in explanations of how green plants protect themselves from excess sunlight. The work earned him election in 2016 to the National Academy of Sciences. 

By: Carolyn Krause || The Oak Ridger

Hacking photosynthesis

We Can Grow 60% More Food By Hacking Photosynthesis

Hacking photosynthesis could grow up to 60% more food, on the same land we use today, according to an international team of researchers.

By: Amanda Winkler || Freethink 

14 rice varieties

Harnessing Light Energy: Scientists look at how photosynthesis could boost yields of rice cultivars

Scientists look at how photosynthesis could boost yields of rice cultivars. 

By: Seed Today

Licors Rice Screenhouse IRRI

Flag leaves could help top off photosynthetic performance in rice

Illinois researchers found that some flag leaves of different varieties of rice transform light and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates better than others.

Image shows phenotypic differences in 8 rice varieties.

Photosynthesis varies greatly across rice cultivars—natural diversity could boost yields

Our team found a 117% difference between how rice plants harness fluctuating light to fix carbon dioxide into food, suggesting a new trait for selection.


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.