With smaller lands and evident climate change, scarcity and starvation may be imminent. However, we are not totally doomed yet as genetically modified superwheat is being developed and produced to make more food despite today’s challenges.
Many factors such as environmental and industrial ones have made growing crops far more challenging nowadays. If this state continues to spiral downward, famine will befall many, if not all, of us.
That is why advancements are being explored such as tapping genetic modification which is also known as genetic engineering. This is when an organism’s genome is directly manipulated through biotechnology.
Changing one’s genetic makeup of cells may create a better and improved highly-efficient organism. And a group of researchers from the Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, UK are revealed to have developed a way of growing genetically modified wheat.
More Carbon To Soak In For Superwheat
As a refresher of what we learned in science as a child, photosynthesis is the process where plants transform carbon dioxide (CO2) and water into glucose with the help of the sunlight. Throughout the process, oxygen is also formed.
Malcolm Hawkesford and the rest of the team members created a way to enhance photosynthesis on wheat. The cereal grain’s photosynthesis actually has a limited efficiency as their supply of five-carbon molecules, where CO2 is added, often falls short.
To solve the problem of shortage in the said molecules, the group added extra copies of SBPase enzyme. This will increase the supply of the molecules for what is to become the superwheat.
For their field test, the group created around one to six extra copies of the enzyme for strains of the spring wheat called Cadenza which is an old wheat variety. Now they will face the challenge of the unpredictable conditions in the real environment.
Boost in Harvest is Expected
Hawkesford says oftentimes, the response would not be the same in the real environment especially when their trials are made in a greenhouse. However, it is extremely worth a shot.
Wheat yields in the UK usually capitulate around 8 tons of wheat for every hectare. If the field tests are successful, it will give in around 15 to 20 percent of a boost in the harvest.
The concept of harvesting more in the same piece of land is already looking exceptional. But with the addition of its environmental benefits with the genetically modified wheat taking more advantage of the high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it becomes even more promising.
Once they get approved to do the field trials, they are expected to commence in the spring of this year. If it is successful, the superwheat research study would be a remarkable solution to land scarcity and rising levels of CO2.