Soybean plants with fewer leaves yield more

Soybean plants with fewer leaves yield more.
They attribute this boost in yield to increased photosynthesis, decreased respiration, and diversion of resources that would have been invested in more leaves than seeds.
"This rate is insufficient to fulfill the needs for global food security, where we need to produce 70-100 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9.7 billion people," said project co-lead Steve Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.
If we can increase the yield of soybeans, we can solve the problems of protein demand and food production at the same time."
Published in Global Change Biology, their paper found that soybean plants produce too many leaves, most of which are shaded and inefficient, thereby wasting resources like water, carbon and nitrogen.
"The model shows that by investing less in leaves, the plant can produce more seeds," Srinivasan said.
The model predicted that a 30-40 percent decrease in leaf area would increase yields by 8-10 percent in field trials, they decreased leaf area (by manually cutting off new leaflets) by just 5 percent and still increased yields by 8 percent.
"We hypothesize that plants with fewer leaves need less water, which requires fewer roots.
Journal Reference: Venkatraman Srinivasan, Praveen Kumar, Stephen P. Long.
Decreasing, not increasing, leaf area will raise crop yields under global atmospheric change.

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