Improving photosynthesis to feed the future
Wednesday 8 October 2014, 1.00PM
Speaker(s): Dr Julian Hibberd, Dept of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge
Photosynthesis is the basis of current food production and was responsible for the biomass that led to our fossil fuel reserves. I will provide information on the extent to which photosynthetic efficiency of plants varies, and the evolutionary drivers thought to be responsible for this variation. Despite being compared with traits as complex as camera-like eyes and mimicry, the most efficient version of photosynthesis known as the C4 pathway, has evolved independently in over sixty lineages of land plants. I will provide examples of the molecular mechanisms thought to be responsible for the evolution of this complex trait, and conclude that while the C4 pathway represents a remarkable example of convergence towards phenotype, this has been driven at least partially by parallel evolution of the underlying molecular mechanisms. I will end on the prospect that this complex trait could be engineered into photosynthetically less efficient crops.
Host: Professor Bob White