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C4 carbon-fixation


IRRI Tweaking Photosynthetic System of Rice to Improve Yield by 50%

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines is working on a project to tweak the photosynthetic system in rice plants so that they can require less water and produce more yields than the ones with conventional photosynthetic system.

 Conventional photosynthesis in most plants is based on a process known as the C3 carbon-fixation mechanism. IRRI scientists say that changing it to a C4 carbon-fixation mechanism could help trigger the second Green Revolution in the world. IRRI says that “calculations show that the cost-benefit ratio of C4 rice is likely to be of the same order as the ‘dwarf-cultivars’ produced in the first Green Revolution bringing benefits to hundreds of millions of people in the poorer parts of the world. Inserting the C4 photosynthetic pathway into rice should increase rice yield by 50%, double water-use efficiency, and use less fertilizer to achieve those improvements.”

In the future, to combat effects brought on by climate change, rice varieties will have to be more nutritious, and consume less water and nitrogen. This can happen only if the efficiency of photosynthetic system is increased, which is possible by developing a C4 rice plant, says the IRRI, which has been working on the project since 2008.

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