University of Illinois Receives $25 Million From Gates Foundation for Photosynthesis Research

University of Illinois Receives $25 Million From Gates Foundation for Photosynthesis Research

The University of Illinois has announced a five-year, $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for research on the photosynthetic efficiency of staple food crops.

Led by Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at the University of Illinois, the RIPE (Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency) project will explore a variety of transgenic approaches as a way of optimizing the photosynthetic process, a development that could boost crop yields and help mitigate food security challenges in developing countries. Building on research already conducted in this area, computer simulation models will used to identify the best plant targets for further experimentation by Long's team.

As part of the project, UI will collaborate with other leading research institutions, including the Australian National University, Rothamsted Research and the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service.

"The UN Food and Agricultural Organization predicts that the world will need to increase staple crop yields 70 percent by 2050," said Long. "The rapid increases that were achieved during the Green Revolution have slowed and will not meet this target. Photosynthesis promises a new area, ripe for exploitation, that will provide part of the yield jump the world needs to maintain food security."

"University of Illinois to Improve Crop Yield Through Photosynthesis in a New Global Effort." University of Illinois Institute for Genomic Biology Press Release 12/10/2012.