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Researchers Create New Molecule That Boosts Wheat Production by 20 Percent

A team of scientists in England has created a synthetic molecule they say increases the size and starch content of wheat grains by 20 percent.

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A team of scientists in England has created a synthetic molecule they say increases the size and starch content of wheat grains by 20 percent.

The research was conducted in a lab by Rothamsted Research and Oxford University scientists.

For their study, published in Nature, the researches detailed how their method used synthetic “precursors” of the sugar trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P). The naturally occurring sugar controls how wheat uses sucrose, which is the main fuel generated by photosynthesis.

After spraying T6P on the wheat plants, the researchers found that the more T6P available to growing crops, the bigger they became.

According to the researchers, this first-of-its-kind technique could be a promising alternative to using genetic modification.

The scientists noted that because the world’s population is projected to increase from 7.4 billion to 8.1 billion by 2025, there are growing concerns about food scarcity. The issue is motivating scientists to hunt for more efficient ways to grow bigger crops on less land.

Although this experiment was successful in a lab, the researchers noted that it still needs to be replicated in a real-world setting.

“[It was] a proof of concept, showing us that it is possible to influence how plants use the fuel they produce for agricultural benefit, both in terms of yield and also resilience to drier conditions,” Dr. Mathew Paul, one of the team’s researchers said. “The next stage of work is to replicate this experiment as much as possible in the field in different environments.”

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