University of Wageningen - WUR
Arabidopsis thaliana natural variation for photosynthesis: a model to guide improving crop photosynthesis?
Photosynthesis and its adaptation to the abiotic environment
Photosynthesis is the main driver of plant biomass production. While crop yields have been increased impressively through breeding the past century, there never has been a strong selection on high photosynthesis efficiency. With the growing demand for biobased materials, we are likely to soon need more high yielding crops. Can such be achieved by crop breeding for more efficient photosynthesis? We explore the opportunities to characterize the genetic variation for photosynthesis efficiency in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. One of the challenges in investigating such genetic variation is the ability to adequately phenotype photosynthesis parameters. For this purpose, we use phenotyping platforms designed for high-throughput imaging of light use efficiency of photosystem II electron transport (ΦPSII or Fq’/Fm’) and related photosynthetic parameters through chlorophyll fluorescence measurements. It demonstrated to be very efficient and reliable in phenotyping several, large, genetically segregating Arabidopsis populations and diversity panels, under different growth conditions. The observed genotypic variation was used to identify nuclear encoded quantitative trait loci (QTL) for photosynthesis parameters, as well as variation residing on the chloroplast genome.