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Plant Power: C4 Rice - Photosynthesis and Food Security

Can understanding photosynthesis help save thousands of lives a year?

This poster and accompanying article introduce C3 and C4 photosynthesis in the context of food security and genetic modification.

Rice biologists have a problem. Rice is a staple food for more than half the world’s population and a combination of population growth and land lost to urbanisation means that by 2050, rice yields have to increase by over 50%.1

Unfortunately, pushing up rice production has become increasingly difficult.

Between 1970 and 1990, rice yield per hectare grew at an average of 2.3% a year. In the 1990s, that fell to 1.5% and between 2000 and 2010, the yearly increase was less than 1%.2

The numbers suggest that biologists need new approaches and one of the boldest being tried is the C4 Rice Project. The project, involving an international consortium of researchers, aims to boost yields by half by creating rice that uses highly efficient C4 photosynthesis.

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