PS Transcendence Webinar Series: From curiosity to crop yield

Abstract I began my research career investigating the relationship between photosynthesis and nitrogen in the leaves of wheat, mainly out of curiosity. The massive increase in human population during my lifetime has resulted in dramatic increases in the atmospheric CO2 concentration which directly impacts photosynthesis and is causing climate change. Population growth has also required large increases in global food production. The Green Revolution in the late 1960s averted massive starvation, but yield improvement is getting progressively harder to achieve. Can our detailed knowledge of photosynthesis be harnessed towards increasing plant growth and crop yield?

Biography - John gained his PhD in 1984 under the supervision of Graham Farquhar at RSBS. After post doctoral positions at the Plant Breeding Institute near Cambridge in the UK and CSIRO Plant Industry in Canberra, he returned to ANU where he remained throughout his career. During that time, he was part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting (2001-6) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis (2014-2021). His research has centred around photosynthesis, the nitrogen cost of the photosynthetic apparatus, how the photosynthetic system changes in response to light and how plants respond to rising atmospheric CO2. He has also investigated the path of CO2 diffusion inside leaves by combining traditional gas exchange methods with the measurement of stable isotopes or chlorophyll fluorescence.