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New Enzymes Could Significantly Increase Wheat Yields

Researchers have revealed in the paper, Rubisco catalytic properties of wild and domesticated relatives provide scope for improving wheat photosynthesis, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, that wheat yields could be significantly improved through varieties of wheat that have a common enzyme, reports ScienceDaily.

Models conducted by scientists at Lancaster University, Rothamsted Research, and The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) show that incorporating the naturally occurring plant enzyme, Rubisco into wheat varieties can improve photosynthesis and increase yields by as much as 20% under certain conditions.

The two most efficient forms of Rubisco that the team found are in Aegilops cylindrical (jointed goatgrass) and Hordeum vulgare (barley).

With global population estimated to surpass nine billion by 2050, and wheat accounting for 20% of the calories consumed worldwide, this discovery could have widespread implications for meeting future food demand.

"Improving the efficiency of photosynthesis--the way crops turn carbon dioxide in our atmosphere into everything we can eat--may seem ambitious but for us it offers the best opportunity for producing the scale of change in crop yield that we need to feed a growing global population in a changing world climate," said Professor Martin A. J. Parry of the Lancaster Environment Center.

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