About the Centre

The Centre’s work is ultimately focused on something that the very survival of the human race is dependent upon – food supply. The world already has a global food shortage and with a growing world population this will only become more serious as time goes on.

What most people don’t realise is that the foods crops that the majority of the world’s population eat every day – wheat and rice – are substantially affected by climate change – the changes in water supply, temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that are happening now and are expected to change further over coming decades.

The aim of the Centre is to contribute to the development of new varieties of wheat and rice that are more productive than existing strains. This includes varieties that produce high levels of grain in conditions of lower water, higher temperature and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

By improving the ability of the two major food plants – wheat and rice – to convert sunlight, air and water into leaf and seed production through photosynthesis, the Centre can contribute to a new yield revolution for food crops.

This revolution would be about making the world’s food crops more productive and more environmentally sustainable due to lower fertiliser and water use.

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The Centre is a collaboration of researchers from a range of disciplines, universities and research organisations. There are four universities involved, along with two plant agriculture based research organisations.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis was funded by the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence funding program to conduct research from 2014-2020.

Why Photosynthesis?

Photosynthesis is the most important biological process to have arisen in the history of the evolution of the Earth.

Plants convert sunlight, air and water into leaf and seed production through a process called photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is particularly important in food crops because it affects how productive they can be – how large the plants grow and how much leaf or seed they produce.

The food crop yield increases achieved over the past forty years through plant breeding and fertiliser use are becoming less effective and cannot solve the food shortage the world is facing.

Because of this, improving photosynthesis is seen as the next frontier in achieving crop yield improvements.

Why Translational Photosynthesis?

The Centre researchers are approaching research in ways that are different to the norm. Instead of focusing on a few parts of the photosynthesis process, the Centre is researching the full process, from the internal functions of leaves to the way crops develop in the field.

The Centre is developing and using advances in photosynthesis research, crop bioengineering, plant phenomics and computational tools. The aim is to attain increased and sustainable crop yields, opening up the next revolution in plant productivity.

This process is what translational photosynthesis is all about – taking scientific discoveries from the lab and translating them to useful outcomes in the field.