Wheat’s roots and leaves… a new key to food security
Scientists at The University of Nottingham are expanding their pioneering research into global food security thanks to new technology which allows them to see inside the leaves and roots of plants, and into the soil that feeds them.
The work is at the cutting edge of the one of the University’s research priorities; to increase the efficiency of food production to meet the needs of the steep projected rise in the human global population. Crops like wheat, rice and maize provide over half of the world’s diet which makes research into boosting production vital for future food security.
The scientists have won two major grants totaling £1.63 million in collaboration with colleagues at Sheffield and Southampton Universities. They will use high-powered X-ray Micro-Computed Tomography scanners which allow them to literally see through the soil to investigate how the roots of plants can best absorb water and nutrients, and also how photosynthesis in leaves could be improved.
In a joint £890,000 project with Sheffield University funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Nottingham scanners will be used to investigate how photosynthesis in food crops like wheat and rice could be improved by breeding plants with optimum leaf structure.