News

Two scientists pose in greenhouse

International Women’s Day 2019: Spotlight on Scientists of the RIPE Project

As part of SIN USA’s celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, SIN Chicago profiled four early-career scientists from the RIPE Project.

Screenshot from France24 news segment.

The high-tech food chain

From farmlands to kitchens, technology is playing a pivotal role in ensuring better yields and disease-free food. 

By: France 24

Two scientists measure photosynthesis.

Hacking photosynthesis to re-engineer crop plants and feed the world

The next 'green revolution' will necessitate a radical redesign of how plants work.

By: Quirks & Quarks | CBC Radio

Don Ort in field

How to feed the world by 2050? Recent breakthrough boosts plant growth by 40 percent.

Recent advances to address hunger through agricultural discovery will be highlighted at this year’s annual meeting of the AAAS.

soybean field

Illinois research combats food insecurity

Established in 2012, RIPE was created to engineer plants to help solve food insecurity. Since it began, it has received more than $70 million in funding.

By: University of IllinoisStories of Impact

Cowpea seeds

As Nigeria makes final move to commercialise Bt cowpea

After nine years of intensive trials of the Bacillus thuringiences (Bt) cowpea, Nigeria finally begins the final processes towards commercialisation.

By: Leadership, a Nigerian newspaper

soyean field

RIPE project aims to help farmers grow more with less

Lab breakthroughs could lead to greater crop production, prepare for future population growth.

By: Daniel Grant | Farmweeknow.com

Headshot of Lisa Ainsworth

RIPE Researcher Lisa Ainsworth honored with NAS Prize

Elizabeth (Lisa) Ainsworth will receive the 2019 NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences.

By: The National Academy of Sciences

Don Ort, Cassava, RIPE

Wired In: Donald Ort

Wired In: Meet Donald Ort, the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Science and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

By: Paul Wood | The News-Gazette

tobacco plants, irrigation line

Plant scientists have found a way to 'hack' photosynthesis. Here's why that's a big deal

If the preliminary research pans out, we may have a new way to feed the world's growing population.

By: Denise Chow | NBC News MACH

Amanda Cavanagh, Paul South, Don Ort

Can hacking plants feed the world? The research looks good

Plants are good at what they do — turning sunlight into food. However, some researchers have found the leaf world could improve, and that could have a major effect on the world’s growing population.

By: Leadership, a Nigerian newspaper

Man with tobacco seedlings

Scientists improve on photosynthesis by genetically engineering plants

Ever since Thomas Malthus issued his dire prediction in 1789 that population growth would always exceed food supply, scientists have worked to prove him wrong. 

By: Julia Rosen | Los Angeles Times

Person uses a machine called a LI-COR to measure photosynthesis on a plant.

Scientists have 'hacked photosynthesis' in search of more productive crops

There's a big molecule, a protein, inside the leaves of most plants. It's called Rubisco.

By: Dan Charles | National Public Radio (NPR)

Soybean plant in sunlight

Fixing a flaw in photosynthesis could massively boost food production

Intelligent design has triumphed where evolution has mostly failed. Biologists have boosted the biomass of tobacco by around 40 per cent by compensating for a fundamental flaw in photosynthesis.

By: Michael Le Page | New Scientist

tobacco plants

Gene engineers make super-size plants that are 40% larger

Researchers hope to create a new “green revolution” by improving photosynthesis.

By : Antonio Regalado | MIT Technology Review

A farmer harvests tobacco leaves at a plantation in the valley of Vinales, in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, January 27, 2015. Picture taken January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Breakthrough in plant engineering could boost productivity, feed millions more

The yield of many staple crops could be boosted by 40 percent by a new process that adjusts the way they turn sunlight into energy.

By: Thin Lei Win | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Two hands hold a tobacco seedling.

Genetically modified 'shortcut' boosts plant growth by 40%

Scientists in the U.S. have engineered tobacco plants that can grow up to 40% larger than normal in field trials.

By: Matt McGrath | BBC News

tobacco plants, flowers

Improve photosynthesis and increase crop yield

Bioengineering corrects defects in photosynthesis in tobacco and increases crop yield by 40%.

By: Katherine Bourzac | Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN)

Don Ort headshot

Reengineering photosynthesis for adaptation to global climate change

Donald Ort's area of expertise lies in the area of photosynthesis and the ability to reengineer it to be adapted for global climate change and to improve its efficiency in agricultural situations.

By: Richard Jacobs | FutureTechPodcast

Picture of panelists

Illinois experts share: Emerging technologies and the role of GMOs

A discussion on GMOs and their role within our food systems. During a roundtable conversation, experts will share details of genetic modification, including how it is developed, tested and regulated to help ensure food safety, and why farmers and scientists view this as another effective tool in the toolbox to help grow and raise our food.

Organized by: Illinois Farm Families

Close-up picture of wheat

Engineering Photosynthesis

There’s some bad news, followed by good news, but partially countered by further bad news. The bad news is that our population is growing, and therefore our food requirements, and yet we are approaching the limits of our ability to increase crop yield with cultivation alone. 

By:  | General Science 

Paul South and Don Ort stand in a field trial.

Can better photosynthesis help feed the world?

Plant researchers have been thinking about using improved photosynthesis to increase crop yields for decades, but now that goal is almost within reach.

By:  | Undark

Turbo-charged

Turbo-Charged Photosynthesis Could Make Crops Grow Faster While Using Fewer Nutrients

One of the great ironies of evolution is that almost all known life depends on one of the slowest and most inefficient enzymes on Earth. Now scientists have taken the largest step towards transferring a work-around from cyanobacteria into a plant.

By: IFLScience 

ARC

Crop genetic benefit two fold thanks to algae

Alge has long been known to be one of natures greatest carbon sinks, with some estimates being as high as 25% of carbon being captured into the biosphere by micro-organisms. Now researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have engineered tiny carbon-capturing engines from blue-green algae into plants.

By: Cameron Costigan | Into the Void Science

Researchers hold tobacco plants next to growth chambers.

Algae could be crucial to boosting crop yields

Scientists have made the break through, into the way plants convert carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into energy.

By: Eddie Summerfield | 2GB 873 AM

This Week in Science teaser image of the hosts.

This Week in Science Podcast

Australian scientists have managed to combine a CO2-eating carboxysome from blue-green algae with the cells of crop plants in the hopes that yields will eventually increase some 60%.

By: Kirsten Sanford | This Week in Science Podcast

Steve Long

The plant whisperer

A famine crisis is looming. Stephen Long's work aims to feed the masses by supercharging the plants we eat. 

By: Duncan Greere | BBC Focus Magazine

Paul South collecting measurements in field

Helping plants remove natural toxins could boost crop yields by 47 percent

Can you imagine the entire population of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom and France going hungry? You don’t need to imagine.

By: Paul South | RIPE Project || The Conversation

cassava graphic

Cassava breeding could impair yield by 20 per cent

Breeding African cassava cultivars for improvements such as pest and disease resistance could impair their yield potential, a study suggests.

By: Paul Adepoju || SciDevNet  

tobacco

Rebooting food: Finding new ways to feed the future

Welcome to the brave new world of food, where scientists are battling a global time-bomb to find new ways to feed the future.

By: Thin Lei Win | Reuters

crops

Genetic engineering innovation makes plants more efficient at using water

The world population is growing rapidly, and that signals big challenges when it comes to how best to feed and fuel everyone our planet has to support. Already agriculture uses 90 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, but this will need to be stretched even further as Earth’s population increases.

By:  | Digital Trends 

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.  “The cowpea growers have been very supportive. They like the GM crop. They have seen it perform and they are ready to grow it," Issoufou Kollo Abdourhamane, the project's manager at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), told me.  Cowpeas, known as black-eyed peas in the United States, are a key

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

Nigeria is poised to become the first country to release a genetically modified variety of insect-resistant cowpeas to farmers.

By: Paul McDivitt | Genetic Literacy Project

The photosynthesis fix

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.

By: Rachel Ehrenberg | Knowable Magazine

Flyer

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.

By: Ingrdi Heilke | Public Side of Private Work

field

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.

By: Jennifer Jensen | WCIA3 News

plants

U of I researchers tackle world hunger

A research team from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I) is working on a project that might eventually change the world: tackling the growing issue of world hunger through increased crop yields.

By: Illinois News Network

Big 10

Illinois biologists power up plant productivity

The BTN LiveBIG campaign is more than school or sports, it is the stories and the impact of innovation, research, and inspiration from all over the conference to make you proud to be apart of the Big Ten. 

By: BTN LiveBIG Campaign

field

Research seeks solutions for climate change, hunger

Researchers at the University of Illinois are taking the basics of photosynthesis miles farther in Urbana-Champaign test plots and greenhouses — intervening in the process, through which plants use sunlight to produce energy, to create higher yields.

By: Phyllis Coulter | Illinois Farmer Today

Soybean field at sunset

To feed the world, improve photosynthesis

By reworking the basic metabolism of crops, plant scientists hope to forestall devastating food shortages.

By: Katherine Bourzac | MIT Technology Review 

Vera

Video: 2017 Food & Fuel Field Day

Local ag communicator Stu Ellis covered the 2017 Food & Fuel Field Day that showcased RIPE's work to our friends, industry partners, and the media.

By: Stu Ellis | WCIA3 News

Fred and Wilma research

U of I crop research moves at light speed with FRED, WILMA

Don’t let the names fool you; FRED and WILMA are anything but Stone Age. FRED (field roving evaluation device) and partner WILMA (wagon for the investigation of leaves using multispectral analysis) to collectively gather much more information much faster than individual scientists clipping light sensors on leaves one at a time.

By: Kay Shipman | FarmWeek

Researcher in the Field

UI’s RIPE agriculture project aims to tackle growing problem

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, farmers will need to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9.2 billion people.That's a problem, said Donald Ort, associate director of the RIPE project at the University of Illinois, which is exploring ways to meet this challenge.

By: Ben Zigterman | News-Gazette

Fon Ort

RIPE project shows off progress in photosynthesis research

RIPE Project Associate Director Don Ort discusses field trials that have shown increased biomass in tobacco plants from genetic modification of photosynthesis.

By: Brian Moline | Illinois Public Media 

Plants

Adapting plants to global change

How do you feed 7 billion people? How do you grow that much food? That’s the question that confronts plant biologists. As the world population continues to grow, and change, researchers like RIPE Director Stephen Long are looking for more ways to grow more food, more quickly.

By: Richard Jacobs | FutureTechPodcast

clouds

Cloudy days cost yield until scientists hacked photosynthesis

Throughout the growing season seemingly benign clouds pass over millions of acres of crops and inadvertently rob plants of their productivity, costing untold bushels of potential yield. Researchers recently reported in the journal Science that they have engineered a solution and increased the productivity of a crop in the field by 14- 20 percent—they believe this fix could be applied to staple food crops to help meet future global food demands.

By: Johannes Kromdijk | Katarzyna Głowacka | Stephen Long || The Science Breaker

Cassava Farmers

Research shows how to grow more cassava, one of the world’s key food crops

What root vegetable is toxic eaten raw but a hunger quencher when cooked, and provides both tapioca flour and the pearls in bubble tea? This question probably will stump many Americans, but is easy for people in the developing world.

By: Stephen P. Long | Amanda P. De Souza | Lynnicia Massenburg || The Conversation

crops

The 12 key science moments of 2016

Our panel of leading scientists pick the most significant discoveries and developments of the year – from the Zika virus to the planet Proxima B – and a surprising secret of marriage.

By: Sue Hartley | The Guardian

tobacco

With an eye on hunger, scientists see promise in genetic tinkering of plants

A decade ago, agricultural scientists at the University of Illinois suggested a bold approach to improve the food supply: tinker with photosynthesis, the chemical reaction powering nearly all life on Earth.

By: Justin Gillis | New York Times 

Mennenga GMO

21st Show: What does genetically modified mean?

What does it mean when we say that a plant is genetically modified?

By: Niala Boodhoo, Christine Herman, Phillip Kisubika and Sean Neumann | 21st Show

Steven Long

GMO Labeling

RIPE Director Steve Long discusses the recent U.S. GMO labeling bill on the 21st Show.

By: 21st Show

Don Ort

GMO safety report

RIPE researcher Don Ort discusses public perception of GMOs in the wake of a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which states GMOs are safe.

By: 21st Show

Dr Lee Hickey

Future fare tipped to be GM, GE, ‘organic’ or none as shortages compound

One of the longest running, loudest and bitterest debates about food in modern times centres on the relative virtues of genetically modified and organic crops.

By: Andrew Masterson | Sydney Morning Herald

crop

The plan to feed the world by hacking photosynthesis

With the world population projected to soar past the 11 billion mark by 2100, we’re going to need to find some creative new ways of putting food on the table. The latest science-powered plan to feed the world? Hacking photosynthesis.

By: Maddie Stone | Gizmodo

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. 

By: Kate Wheeling | Pacific Standard 

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.

Source: Farm Futures 

Picture of leaf.

To feed the world, we may need to hack photosynthesis

One of the biggest challenges of the 21st century will be figuring out how to feed our rising global population. Now, some scientists are making the radical claim that growing more food won't be enough—we literally need to hack photosynthesis.

By: Maddie Stone | Gizmodo  

Tanaka Paddy

Illinois university rice plot could help yields globally

To date, there has been no reason to use the words rice paddies and Illinois in the same sentence, but researchers at the University of Illinois have put the two together with hopes of making an impact on global supplies of the popular grain.

By: Steve Binder | Farm World

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

Better-bred crops could send global warming out to space

Scientists have used computer models to imagine a world where crops are specially bred to reflect away more light and heat, without compromising productivity.

By John Upton | Pacific Standard Magazine