With the tricks used during the Green Revolution to squeeze out as many calories out of land as possible reaching their limits, scientists are now looking at hacking photosynthesis in order to yield a more efficient process.
Engineers trying to design more light-efficient algae for biofuel production have seen some success with this strategy, but it hasn’t yet been tested in higher plants. But Ort’s optimistic that we can give it a try.
“There’s a biosynthetic pathway for chlorophyll, which has about eight different enzymes,” Ort told me. “Affecting any one of those enzymes can affect chlorophyll. That’s a fairly easy engineering problem, to go in and make one enzyme work more slowly.”
(As an aside, scientists aren’t totally sure why plants evolved to produce more chlorophyll than they can use, but Ort suspects it has to do with competition. Robbing your neighbor of sunlight, even if you have no use for it, can help you stake out your turf. A perfect example of what may be an adaptive trait for wild plants, but isn’t so great for food production).
|"Venter says that the cell constitutes a brand new, artificial species."|
|He's Not as Smart as He Thinks|
|The Top 10 Psychology Studies of 2010|
|Memory is a Feature of Neurons Rather Than a Function of Brain Systems|
|"Creating an HIV vaccine is like trying to fire a gun at millions of shielded, moving targets that can eat your bullets." Why We Have No Cure for AIDS|
|“This conversation about how technology is hijacking people is really catching on.”|
|Japanese Create Ice Cream That Does Not Melt|
|Making a Movie Inside a Video Game|
|“Banning polluting cars in 2040 or 2050 doesn’t actually look like a very bold move.”|
|“Human and animal cells can be 3D printed into high-resolution tissue.”|
|“Our Internet handlers, not government, are using operant conditioning to modify our behaviour today.”|
|Google Map Shows You the Most Photographed Areas of the World|
|“During this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary 'fascism'.”|
|“That science fiction future where robots can do what people and animals do may be closer than you think.”|
|“Nobody is forcing the participants to stay, of course, but if they leave, they won’t be paid.”|
|“We’re going to start to see chip implants get the same realm of acceptance as piercings and tattoos.”|
|“The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long.”|