Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Supercrops: Fixing the flaws in photosynthesis: Plants with excess chlorophyll don't just shade out rivals, though. They also shade their own lower leaves. What's more, the excess chlorophyll may cause some leaves to absorb light energy faster than it can be used, which can damage them. So plants have evolved a "quenching system" to mop up the surplus energy. All this is costly for the plant, which is one big reason crops yield less food per light unit than they otherwise might. A soybean mutant with half the usual level of chlorophyll can produce 30 per cent more biomass than normal.