Program 3 aims to test the genetic diversity in photosynthetic traits in C3 and C4 crop and model species to determine genes and mechanisms underpinning this diversity. There is a considerable variation between species and genera of plants in terms of how photosynthesis functions. In seeking ways to improve photosynthetic performance, understanding the mechanisms underpinning this natural range of functional variation allows the identification of traits, genes and germplasm which can be directly utilised for photosynthetic improvement in crops. This is becoming an increasingly powerful approach with recent advances in high throughput plant phenomics, DNA and RNA sequencing and genome association mapping.

Program 3 Working in the field. Credit: Richard Richards, CSIRO.

This program will take a suite of approaches to identify functional strategies, mechanisms and genetic variation associated with different aspects of photosynthetic performance. Research areas include:
  • Screening existing crop and model plant germplasm for enhanced photosynthetic capacity and efficiency, enhanced stomatal performance and improved photosynthesis and growth at elevated CO2.
  • Dissecting natural variation in canopy light-use efficiency (sorghum, rice and wheat, Brachypodium).
  • Building and mining genetic resources to discover new genes responsible for improved photosynthetic performance.