Department of
Plant Biology

Plant Biology News

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New imaging, machine-learning methods speed effort to reduce crops' need for water

Scientists have developed and deployed a series of new imaging and machine-learning tools to discover attributes that contribute to water-use efficiency in crop plants during photosynthesis and to reveal the genetic basis of variation in those traits.

The findings are described in a series of four research papers led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate students Jiayang (Kevin) Xie and Parthiban Prakash, and postdoctoral researchers John Ferguson, Samuel Fernandes and Charles Pignon.

The goal is to breed or engineer crops that are better at conserving water without sacrificing yield, said Andrew Leakey, a professor of plant biology and of crop sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, who directed the research.

“Drought stress limits agricultural production more than anything else,” Leakey said. “And scientists are working to find ways to minimize water loss from plant leaves without decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide the leaves take in.”

Read the full article at the Illinois News Bureau

Publication Date: 08/25/2021
Photo credits: L. Brian Stauffer
Editor: Diana Yates