As the world's population increases, the spectre of severe food shortages is growing, with the United Nations predicting1 that food production will need to double by 2050. It has been proposed that cyanobacteria — which obtain their energy from a highly efficient form of photosynthesis — might hold the key to increasing the yield of our most important crops and vegetables.
Dean Price and Susan Howitt from the Research School of Biology have summarized the developments in engineering plants with the more efficient cyanobacterial enzyme for carbon fixation in a Nature ‘News & Views’ article, entitled ‘Plant science: Towards turbocharged photosynthesis’. Price and Howitt comment on a paper recently published in Nature by Lin et al, which report a major step towards realizing this possibility, finding that cyanobacteria can be used to improve photosynthesis in the leaves of crops. Price, who was not involved in the research but who is a leading plant geneticist and expert on translation of CO2 acquisition by cyanobacteria into crop plants, was interviewed by Technology Review and Popular Mechanics."