Research Topic

Photosynthesis within changing climate conditions

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Increasing world population requires the development of high production agriculture, adapted to current and predicted environmental conditions. Simultaneously there is a growing awareness of the need to improve environmental sustainability of agriculture to ensure long-term economic sustainability. Thus, ...

Increasing world population requires the development of high production agriculture, adapted to current and predicted environmental conditions. Simultaneously there is a growing awareness of the need to improve environmental sustainability of agriculture to ensure long-term economic sustainability. Thus, improving both crop yields as well as agriculture sustainability in a changing climate is a grand challenge for 21st century agriculture.
There is increasing evidence that, to achieve a quantum boost to cereal crop yield potential, a major improvement in photosynthetic capacity and/or efficiency will be required. There is also evidence that historic gains in crop yield have been associated with increased photosynthesis. Furthermore, basic research in photosynthesis has confirmed that substantial improvements are theoretically possible. Historically, photosynthetic performance has been described to be conditioned by CO2 availability within the chloroplast (determined by CO2 diffusion) and metabolic activity (determined by the energy capture/transformation and activity of enzymes involved in Calvin cycle). For this reason it is essential to deepen our knowledge about processes affecting photosynthetic performance; under optimal and changing environmental conditions.
Although the mode of photosynthetic regulation has been long characterized, important aspects remain to be elucidated about photosynthetic apparatus performance, especially under stressful growth conditions. There remains significant debate on this topic. For example, some studies show that environmental stress such as drought and high temperature significantly affect metabolic activity, while other studies suggest that limitations in CO2 diffusion are most important. Furthermore, the predominant role of Rubisco in photosynthetic performance has been a subject of debate. Studies conducted during the last decade, show that there is good experimental evidence that Rubisco activity does not always dominate the rate of photosynthesis and that other rate-limiting steps exist. The control exerted by Rubisco over photosynthesis will also change as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperatures increase. Under those conditions, other Calvin-cycle enzymes including aldolase, sedoheptulose 1,7-bisphosphatase and transketolase may have increasing levels of control over photosynthesis.
Papers submitted for this Research Topic will deepen our knowledge on the mechanisms behind plant photosynthesis through multidisciplinary manuscripts addressing genetic, enzymatic, metabolic, anatomical and morphological characterization of photosynthesis-related traits and their impact on plant development and productivity under changing environmental conditions.


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