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Hope for the Hungry! Scientists supercharge Plant Growth by making them more responsive to change in Light and Shade

Long's group targeted a system that protects plants from excessive sunlight

Representational image. Pixabay

Washington, November 28, 2016:  Scientists have supercharged plant growth by making them more responsive to changes in light and shade. The researchers hope what they have learned by souping up experimental plants will someday help feed a hungry world.

Plants turn sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into food through a process called photosynthesis.

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“It is the driving force behind all of life,” says University of Illinois plant biologist Steve Long. “Arguably, photosynthesis is the most important process on our planet.”

But for a process that’s so important, it’s surprisingly inefficient.

With food demand expected to grow by 70 percent by mid-century on a planet that is rapidly warming, researchers have been looking for ways to improve photosynthesis as a way to squeeze more productivity out of each plant.

“We’re kind of forced to push our crops to the limit,” says crop scientist Matthew Reynolds at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT.

Long’s group targeted a system that protects plants from excessive sunlight. When a plant is soaking up more light than it can handle, it gets rid of the energy as heat. But when clouds or leaves shade it, that system stays on for minutes or hours, slowing down the plant’s growth.

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Long and his colleagues added genes that shortened that recovery time. Modified plants grew up to 20 percent more than untreated ones.

The study appears in the journal Science.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Reynolds, who was not involved with the research. Conventional breeding programs are improving yields by about half a percent per year, if that. “A 20 percent increase — that’s a fairly substantial jump.”

Other attempts to tinker with the protective systems have hurt the plant, according to Bob Furbank, director of the Center for Translational Photosynthesis Research. He’s more optimistic about this one, since it makes the system more responsive rather than turning it down.

However, he adds, “It may be that these protective mechanisms are more important under drought, and under stress. These sorts of plants will have to be tested under a range of stresses to make sure there’s no downside.”

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Long’s group used genetic engineering to modify their plants, which can be controversial. But Reynolds, who focuses on conventional plant breeding, says the genetically modified plant can be “a proof of concept so we can start looking for natural variation as well.”

Long’s group worked in tobacco because it’s easy to study. Next they plan to apply the same technique to rice, soybeans and cassava, three critical food crops around the world. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)