Program 2 focuses on identifying strategies for maximising light interception by the leaf while minimising the wastage of light absorbed in excess which can be usefully converted in various parts in the crop canopy.

The use of sunlight by plants for the production of biomass is constrained by a number of key biophysical and biochemical limitations and only 4-7% of the energy in sunlight falling onto a crop is captured into organic matter under the best conditions.

Key factors which limit this conversion efficiency include:

  • about half of the solar spectrum cannot be absorbed by chlorophyll and thus is unavailable
  • photosynthetic electron transport is driven by quantum events, rather than the energy content of the photon
  • absorption of bright sunlight may exceed the capacity of metabolic reactions within the chloroplast to process it
  • the distribution of photosynthetic resources between chloroplasts and leaves in crop canopies cannot always match the dynamic light environment.

Research areas include:

  • Studying the fundamental differences in antenna complexes throughout evolution
  • Extending the spectrum of light antennae absorption through introducing new chlorophylls such as chlorophyll-f
  • Manipulating the size of the light antenna complex
  • Developing approaches for removing metabolic blockages when light is in excess.