Research yields world food potential

August 1, 2011
Research yields world food potential
Wheat field. Photo by Kevin Lallier

The Australian National University and Bayer CropScience have signed a research agreement to develop new technology with the potential to produce higher yielding food crops.

The agreement allows for the to be provided at no extra cost to subsistence farmers in lesser developed countries, which becomes critically important as the world’s population continues to expand.

Using pioneering research techniques, a team at ANU has successfully re-engineered the Rubisco enzyme, which uses carbon dioxide from the air, and converts the energy from sunlight into the sugars that are the building blocks of life, by the process of photosynthesis.

Professor Jill Gready from the John Curtin School of Medical Research, who leads the research team at ANU, said the agreement recognised the far-reaching potential of technology which produces improved mutants of the enzyme.

“This technology has the potential to address important problems globally by increasing the rate of capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” she said.

“ANU and Bayer CropScience have agreed to work together to accelerate the science underlying the technology and allow development of the technology ready for applications into plants more quickly and efficiently.

“As a result of this co-operative agreement, the technology will be available for public-good purposes such as for subsistence farmers in developing countries.”

Professor Gready said ANU and Bayer had a common interest in improving food security and reducing poverty in lesser developed countries.

“The technology will be made available through links with international agriculture aid organisations, while still allowing the technology to be used for the development of crops for sale to commercial farmers in wealthier countries,” she said.

“Many applications of this newly developed technology are envisaged, including the production of higher-yielding that use water and fertilizer more efficiently.

“The technology also has potential applications in the improvement of plants for bioenergy production, to improve trees or other plants for carbon sequestration, and in the improvement of agricultural soils and land remediation.”

Explore further: Scientists aim to improve photosynthesis to increase food and fuel production

Related Stories

Mitigation measures undersold: study

February 17, 2011

The Federal Government should increase its climate change mitigation target to account for cheap land-based carbon offsets, according to the author of a new report from The Australian National University.

How much mileage do you get from sawdust?

June 27, 2011

As vacationers gas up to hit the road this summer, they could find themselves wondering about alternative fuels and their potential to ease the strain on pocketbooks and the environment.

The next carbon capture tool could be new, improved grass

October 26, 2010

( -- A blade of grass destined to be converted into biofuel may join energy efficiency and other big-ticket strategies in the effort to reduce atmospheric carbon -- but not in the way that you might think.

Beans means oil crisis relief

April 24, 2006

Forget ethanol fuel blends from sugar, tomorrow's cars could be full of beans, according to University of Queensland legume biotechnology expert Professor Peter Gresshoff.

Recommended for you

Team finds Southern East Africa getting wetter, not dryer

October 21, 2016

The prevailing notion that the African continent has been getting progressively drier over time is being challenged by a new study that finds that drought has actually decreased over the past 1.3 million years and that the ...

Mt. Aso could erupt much sooner, scientists warn

October 20, 2016

Damage from the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake could hasten Mt. Aso's eruption, volcanologists warn. In a paper published on Science, Kyoto University researchers and colleagues report new faults in the vicinity of Mt. Aso's magma ...

Risk analysis for common ground on climate loss and damage

October 20, 2016

The Paris Agreement included groundbreaking text on the need for a mechanism to help identify risks beyond adaptation and support the victims of climate-related loss and damage—but how exactly it will work remains unclear. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.