Prospects of photosynthetic research for increasing agricultural productivity, with emphasis on the tropical C4 Amaranthus and the cassava C3-C4 crops uri icon

abstract

  • Productivity of most improved major food crops showed stagnation in the past decades. As human population is projected to reach 9-10 billion by the end of the 21(st) century, agricultural productivity must be increased to ensure their demands. Photosynthetic capacity is the basic process underlying primary biological productivity in green plants and enhancing it might lead to increasing potential of the crop yields. Several approaches may improve the photosynthetic capacity, including integrated systems management, in order to close wide gaps between actual farmer's and the optimum obtainable yield. Conventional and molecular genetic improvement to increase leaf net photosynthesis (P (N)) are viable approaches, which have been recently shown in few crops. Bioengineering the more efficient CC4 into C-3 system is another ambitious approach that is currently being applied to the C-3 rice crop. Two under-researched, yet old important crops native to the tropic Americas (i.e., the CC4 amaranths and the C-3-CC4 intermediate cassava), have shown high potential P (N), high productivity, high water use efficiency, and tolerance to heat and drought stresses. These physiological traits make them suitable for future agricultural systems, particularly in a globally warming climate. Work on crop canopy photosynthesis included that on flowering genes, which control formation and decline of the canopy photosynthetic activity, have contributed to the climate change research effort. The plant breeders need to select for higher P (N) to enhance the yield and crop tolerance to environmental stresses. The plant science instructors, and researchers, for various reasons, need to focus more on tropical species and to use the research, highlighted here, as an example of how to increase their yields.

publication date

  • 2016
  • 2016
  • 2016