A Chemical Enhancer of Net Photosynthesis
A University of California researcher has isolated genes (described in PCT application #WO00029607A1) from the soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti (a symbiont naturally found with alfalfa) that produce a molecule that increases net photosynthesis by 25% to 30% within 20 hours after being applied to alfalfa roots. Shoots of treated plants show a 10% increase in dry weight within two weeks.
The UC molecule and its associated genes are a previously unknown mechanism for the bacterial promotion of plant growth, and they open up a vast array of potentially valuable products and techniques for a number of novel approaches to improving plant yields. In addition to direct application of the UC photosynthesis enhancer molecule, there is also a potential for identification of additional photosynthesis-enhancing molecules and molecular structures for use in enhancing plant yields, and the bioengineering of genetically-altered bacteria that overproduce the UC enhancer molecule. Also, plants might be a target of novel approaches, as in the isolation and characterization of plant receptors and regulatory cascades triggered by interaction with the UC enhancer molecule, with the prospect for improved plant cultivars that respond more favorably to the enhancer or that selectively increase the growth of particular plant organs that contribute to economic returns.
With the great variety of approaches that this novel mechanism makes possible, the UC enhancer molecule is likely to be a focus of multi-pronged efforts that have the potential to significantly increase yield and shorten growing times.
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