Crop leaves in full sunlight dissipate damaging excess absorbed light energy as heat. This protective dissipation continues after the leaf transitions to shade, reducing crop photosynthesis. A bioengineered acceleration of this adjustment increased photosynthetic efficiency and biomass in tobacco in the field. But could that also translate to increased yield in a food crop? Here we bioengineered the same change into soybean. In replicated field trials, photosynthetic efficiency in fluctuating light was higher and seed yield in five independent transformation events increased by up to 33%. Despite increased seed quantity, seed protein and oil content were unaltered. This validates increasing photosynthetic efficiency as a much needed strategy toward sustainably increasing crop yield in support of future global food security.
ASJC Scopus subject areas