Improving Photosynthesis Means a 20 Percent Boost in Soybean Yields


For the first time, researchers have proven that multigene bioengineering of photosynthesis increases major food crop yields in field trials. A collaborative team led by the University of Illinois has worked on this project for more than ten years. Project researchers have transgenically altered soybean plants to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis, resulting in greater yields without a loss of quality. These results come at an important time. A recent United Nations report shows that nearly 10 percent of the world’s population was hungry in 2021. By 2030, UNICEF says more than 660 million people will likely face food scarcity and malnutrition. Photosynthesis is the natural process all plants use to convert sunlight into energy and yield. Project researchers say the 100-plus step photosynthesis process is surprisingly inefficient, so they’ve been working to improve it. The lead scientist says data shows the food supply level needs to grow significantly to meet the demand.