Plant science presentation

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Feeding the world
how plant biologists are working to
avert the world food crisis
The perfect storm – food energy and water
The world is facing a potential crisis in
terms of food security.
£2 billion needed for science ’Grand
Challenge’ to help feed the world
Need to double crop production by 2050 to keep up
with growing demand
Thomas Robert Malthus
The Green Revolution
9
(Tonnes/Hectare)
Wheat yield
8
7
6
5
4
3
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
Year
UK wheat yields have doubled since the 1970s
That increase has ended
UK wheat yields http://www.earth-policy.org/data_center/
To improve crop yields we need plants that:
1) Absorb more light
2) Capture the light better through
photosynthesis
3) Put greater proportion of resources into
useable products
Improving photosynthesis will improve crop yields…
…but what limits photosynthesis?
Global warming threatens yields
Predicted effects of Global Climate Change
Cold!
Weather conditions affect yield
2007
Wet
9
(Tonnes/Hectare)
Wheat yield
8
1975/6
Summer droughts
7
2012 ~12% drop in yield
Due to poor summer weather
6
2001
“Very average”
5
4
3
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
Year
Our research seeks to understand the factors that cause yields to
fluctuate and so identify traits that increase yields in bad years
UK wheat yields http://www.earth-policy.org/data_center/
What we are going to do today…
1) Visit the Faculty “Nature Garden” – collect
some nature to use in the lab.
2) Visit a research lab
3) Experiments:
a) Heat tolerance in different leaves –
which plants are best suited to surviving
hot environments?
b) Chlorophyll– making the most of light
Experiment 1 – heat tolerance
Different plants have different ability to tolerate heat
Heat stress affects photosynthesis
Measure the heat tolerance using a “Plant stress meter”
(FluoroPen)
Experiment 2 – Chlorophyll content
Plants contain 2 forms of chlorophyll, a & b. Absorb different
colours of light
Leaves in shade contain different ratio of chlorophylls to
absorb different part of spectrum
Measure the chlorophyll content using scanning
spectrophotometer
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