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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Photosynthesis Research Unit

Crop productivity can be limited by intrinsic inefficiencies in the photosynthetic process and by environmental conditions such as water shortages or extreme temperatures. The mission of the Photosynthesis Research Unit (PRU) is to investigate critical steps in photosynthesis as well as in-plant nutrient distribution. By integrating experimental findings from the molecular, biochemical, and whole-plant levels, we seek to determine

  • regulatory controls that coordinate the photosynthetic process,
  • the influence of environmental and genetic factors on photosynthetic efficiency,
  • molecular pathways by which nutrients are distributed within plants,
  • factors that determine cell storage capacity, and
  • new methods for improving plant growth by modifying gene structure and expression.
Our ultimate goal is to use our discoveries to improve the nutritional quality and yield of U.S. crops.

To find out more about the goals of the Photosynthesis Research Unit, please read the in-depth interview with our four primary researchers entitled the team. You can also browse the rest of this website or email our research leader Don Ort at If you wish to contact a specific lab within the PRU, please visit the labs section of this site.

Last Modified: 12/24/2008
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