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.

Komal Attri
Jose Barrero_headshot
Elsa de Becker
Lynn Doran Headshot
Gonzalo Estavillo
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Jake Harris
TJ Higgins
Armen Kelikian
Anna Leipertz
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Steve Long
Nina M. Maryn
Kris Niyogi
Iyke Nnaji
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

A zoomed in picture of a green stalk of rice.

Changes Upstream: RIPE team uses CRISPR/Cas9 to alter photosynthesis for the first time

A RIPE team used CRISPR/Cas9 to increase gene expression in rice by changing its upstream regulatory DNA. Their work is the first unbiased gene-editing approach to increase gene expression and downstream photosynthetic activity and was recently published in Science Advances.

RIPE postdoctoral research associate Dhananjay Gotarkar

RIPE researchers report faster screening of photoprotection in crops

In a recent study, published in JoVE, RIPE researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Cambridge reported a high-throughput method for screening rates of NPQ relaxation in field grown plants.

Emily Gibson, Liana Acevedo-Siaca, Coralie Salesse-Smith_HXK1 thumbnail

Researchers show potential for improved water-use efficiency in field-grown plants

By overexpressing a sugar-sensing enzyme, called hexokinase, in field-grown tobacco plants, researchers could improve intrinsic water-use efficiency without decreasing photosynthetic rates or biomass production.