Intensive farming: studying mosses can help
Is it possible to reproduce the ability of mosses to survive in the shade to increase the productivity of cultivated plants? This is the objective of the study conducted at the Laboratory of Photosynthesis and Bioenergy of the Department of Biotechnology at University of Verona.
The researchers identified the genes that in mosses encode “special” proteins able to increase the ability to absorb photons, balancing energy absorption. The next step will be to introduce them into cultivated plants to improve their yield in intensive farming.
Crops, in fact, have become used to growing in full sun avoiding shading each other. In their evolution, they have lost these regulatory genes which mosses, their ancestors, have maintained.
“It is estimated that the world’s population will rise to 10 billion people or more in 2050. Demand for food will double while arable land per capita will decrease due to the desertification of large areas. The only possible solution is to increase crop yields per hectare”, explained Roberto Bassi, Professor at UNIVR and corresponding author of the article.
The study, published in Nature Plants, was funded by the European Commission as part of the S2B (Solar to Biomass) project. In addition to University of Verona, the research involved Palacký University of Olomouc, University of Groningen and University of Turku.