CPSC Lecture with Stephen P. Long – University of Copenhagen

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CPSC Lecture with Stephen P. Long

Stephen P. Long from University of Illinois, USA and Univertsity of Lancaster, UK will give a lecture on Monday 21 August in connection with the CPSC summer course.

Photosynthesis. The Final Frontier in Increasing Sustainable Crop Yield Potential

Demand for our major crops may rise 70-100% by 2050, while we look increasingly to croplands for energy as well as food, feed and urban development. This is at a time when the increases in yield seen over the past 60 years are stagnating and global change poses a further threat to production.

In reality we have little more than one crop breeding cycle in which to insure against this emerging short-fall.  The approaches of the Green Revolution are now approaching their biological limits. However, photosynthesis, which is among the best known of plant processes, falls far below its theoretical efficiency, even in our best modern cultivars.  Theoretical analysis and in silico engineering have suggested a number of points at different levels of organization from metabolism to crop canopy structure where efficiency of light, nitrogen and water use could be improved.

It will be shown that this is particularly so in the context of global atmospheric change.  Genetic transformation, both as a means and as a test of concept, have begun to validate some of these suggested improvements with greater production in the field. Synthetic and systems approaches being used in our BMGF project on Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) and related projects will be outlined and successes described.

Steve Long FRS is Gutgesell Endowed University of Illinois Professor of Crop Sciences and also Distinguished Professor of Crop Sciences at the University of Lancaster, UK and Visiting Newton-Abrahams Professor at the University of Oxford, UK.

Steve’s research focus is the efficiency of photosynthesis, the process by which plants trap sunlight energy to build carbohydrates and the wide range of organic chemicals on which life depends.

His work spans from molecular and in silico design to field analysis of performance. This is applied in increasing genetic crop yield potential and adaptation to global change.

His achievements include: discovery of the most productive land plant known, an Amazonian grass; production of the first complete non-steady state mathematical model of the process of photosynthesis; and the first demonstration from modeling to field trials of increased crop productivity by designed modification of the photosynthetic machinery.  The Guardian listed this as one of the 12 Key Science Moments of 2016.

He is currently Director of the $25M Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation international project on Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). Thomson-Reuters list him as one of the Most Highly Cited Authors of 2016. He has recently received the British Ecological Soceity’s Marsh Award for Climate Change Research and the International Society for Photosynthesis Research’s Innovation Award. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013; he served as Chair of the Sub-Committee on Organismal Biology, Ecology and Evolution from 2014.

He is Founding and Chief Editor of “Global Change Biology”, which has become a major primary data source for the Assessment Reports of the UN International Panel on Climate Change.  He has given invited briefings on bioenergy, climate change impacts and food security to President Bush at the White House, to the Vatican and to Bill Gates. He serves in advisory roles on key agricultural committees in the US, UK and EU.

Steve Long Lab