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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Research Project #443811

Research Project: Enhancing Photosynthesis for Agricultural Resiliency and Sustainability

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research

Project Number: 5012-21000-032-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 6, 2023
End Date: Apr 5, 2028

Objective 1: Develop, test, and quantify the benefits of specific strategies for agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation, including enhanced rock weathering, overwintering corn and soybean, expanded use of cover crops, and genetic manipulations to increase photosynthetic efficiency. Sub-objective 1.A: Apply micrometeorological techniques to quantify ecosystem-scale fluxes of greenhouse gases, energy, and water in response to environmental variability, land-use change, and variable management practices. Sub-objective 1.B: Test the effect of basalt application on maize and soybean leaf and seed nutrient content. Objective 2: Adapt crops to future atmospheric conditions through identifying key genes and loci associated with CO2 response, N use efficiency, crop quality and ozone tolerance. Sub-Objective 2.A: Identify the genetic factors that coordinate photosynthesis with N availability and characterize how manipulation of these factors impacts plant traits. Sub-objective 2.B: Test whether the ability to obtain biologically fixed N provides an advantage to how plants acclimate to elevated CO2 and characterize the factors that signal C/N status between source and sink tissues. Sub-objective 2.C: Test soybean response to elevated ozone and drought stress. Sub-objective 2.D: Design an experiment to disentangle the relative contributions of high temperature and increased vapor pressure deficit on the physiology, growth, and yields of soybean. Objective 3: Develop and apply tools using a field-based high-throughput phenotyping platform to quantify growth, physiology, yield quantity, yield quality, and scalability of crop adaptations to current and future environmental conditions. Sub-objective 3.A: Develop multi- and hyper- spectral techniques for high-throughput phenotyping of leaf, plant, and canopy growth, physiological, and nutritional properties to associate genotype to phenotype and to quantify physiological responses to genetic manipulations to increased photosynthetic efficiency. Sub-objective 3.B: Develop and test hyperspectral methods to measure soil characteristics, including water content, and iron and zinc concentrations. Objective 4: Develop, train, and validate computer models of crop nutrient uptake and growth in order to identify traits and genes that will improve crop quality and yield. Sub-objective 4.A: Develop models of yield for key crops that include effects of CO2 concentration, temperature, soil characteristics and vapor pressure. Sub-objective 4.B: Develop soil and root nutrient uptake and distribution models.

Research aims to understand and reduce the negative impacts of agriculture by quantifying greenhouse gas fluxes using Eddy covariance techniques, investigating the effectiveness of soil amendments to store carbon, and developing state-of-the-art high-throughput techniques for fast and accurate measurements of crop traits. Experiments will test how elevated carbon dioxide impacts enhanced rock weathering in corn and soybean ecosystems and will monitor carbon dioxide, water and ozone fluxes in long-term experimental facilities. Research will test how interrelated metabolic and stress response pathways are coordinated at the genetic scale, generate crop models that identify trait and gene targets for crop improvement, and develop novel high throughput phenotyping techniques to measure plant and canopy traits and efficiently process immense data streams from sensors. Experimental approaches scale from the molecular to the ecosystem level, combining biophysics, physiology, molecular biology, genetics, and genomics. Research will take advantage of unique field and greenhouse experimental and monitoring facilities, along with integrated collaborations with other ARS and university researchers and commercial farmers.