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Climate change, population growth and stressed plants: Feeding the world in the 21st century

phys.org
3 min read
fairly difficult
New research from the University of Oxford, published recently in the journal eLife, sheds fresh light on plant chloroplasts, and the proteins inside them. The regulation of chloroplast proteins is important for plant development and stress acclimation and is increasingly significant as plants—including our staple crops, wheat, rice, barley—are having to respond to our changing environments.
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain



"As the planet warms, it will be increasingly urgent to understand the molecular basis of plant stress tolerance. This study has uncovered another layer of complexity within the systems that plants use to control their chloroplasts." Professor Paul Jarvis

It has been estimated that 'stressed' crops—from changing weather patterns, drought, flooding and extreme temperature—may reduce production by as much as 70%, which will have devastating impact on our ability to feed the world.

It has become increasingly urgent that we develop improved crop varieties—plants with enhanced nutritional value or resilience to adverse environments—and key to this development will be our understanding of the molecular basis of plant stress tolerance.

All green plants grow by converting light energy into chemical energy via a process known as photosynthesis. Photosynthesis occurs within specialized compartments of plant cells known as chloroplasts. Chloroplasts require thousands of different proteins to function, and these are imported into the chloroplast via a specialized machinery known as the TOC complex. The TOC complex is, itself, made of…
Prof. Paul Jarvis
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