Starting in the field, not in the lab
Improving photosynthesis efficiency to boost food production
By 2050, there will be nearly 10 billion mouths to feed worldwide. Food security is under pressure from explosive population growth, climate change and biodiversity loss.
One possible solution lies in improving photosynthesis in food crops.
During photosynthesis, energy from the sun allows plants to grow and make food while taking up CO2 and generating oxygen. Photosynthesis is the major source of energy for all life on the planet.
But the efficiency of plant photosynthesis in the field is often very low and requires a large inputs of resources. Photosynthesis is also very sensitive to environmental conditions. If plants convert just a little bit more sunlight, growers could harvest much more potatoes, cassava or maize per square metre.
Why is research into the efficiency of photosynthesis needed?
'The challenge is too
big for one party
alone, global partnerships and collaborations are mission critical'
Operations Manager JII
'Let's flip science, together!'
Founding Scientific Director JII
The Management Team of Jan IngenHousz Institute
Improving photosynthesis in crops is too big of a challenge to be solved by one laboratory and can only be approached by bringing together different disciplines and efforts - from engineering, data science, biochemistry, physics, crop breeding and agriculture and ultimately farmers.
JII researchers aim to integrate knowledge and technology into an accessible, open platform that will move the science beyond the confines of the traditional laboratory and use the real world as the laboratory. Using advanced photosynthesis sensors and data science tools, they continuously record in detail how photosynthesis responds to changes in, for example, light, temperature and humidity. This happens in many thousands of plants in the field.
The platform will enable researchers to watch the inner workings of photosynthesis as it occurs and they can then use this information to determine why plants are not more productive. By doing this in many thousands of plant varieties, they can identify differences in genes that drive these processes and the world can work together to improve multiple crops in multiple regions simultaneously. Scientists can share insights and approaches to develop new crop varieties that produce more food more efficiently and sustainably while being more resilient to climate change.
What does the Jan IngenHousz Institute do differently?
Are you a passionate researcher and concerned with photosynthesis? Are you a researcher at a university or research institution and see opportunities for collaboration? Or is a position at the Jan IngenHousz Institute something for you? Get in touch!
In the near future, you can also participate in research through our open scientific platform that is accessible to a community of hundreds of research groups around the world. The platform enables this broad community to measure photosynthesis in new ways in many crops.