Photosynthesis research: a model to bridge fundamental science, translational products, and socio-economic considerations in agriculture. uri icon

abstract

  • Despite impressive success in molecular physiological understanding of photosynthesis, and preliminary evidence on its potential for quantum shifts in agricultural productivity, the question remains of whether increased photosynthesis, without parallel fine-tuning of the associated processes, is enough. There is a distinct lack of formal socio-economic impact studies that address the critical questions of product profiling, cost-benefit analysis, environmental trade-offs, and technological and market forces in product acceptability. When a relatively well understood process gains enough traction for translational value, its broader scientific and technical gap assessment, in conjunction with its socio-economic impact assessment for success, should be a prerequisite. The successes in the upstream basic understanding of photosynthesis should be integrated with a gap analysis for downstream translational applications to impact the farmers' and customers' lifestyles and livelihoods. The purpose of this review is to assess how the laboratory, the field, and the societal demands from photosynthesis could generate a transformative product. Two crucial recommendations from the analysis of the state of knowledge and potential ways forward are (i) the formulation of integrative mega-projects, which span the multistakeholder spectrum, to ensure rapid success in harnessing the transformative power of photosynthesis; and (ii) stipulating spatiotemporal, labour, and economic criteria to stage-gate deliverables.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020