Researchers are trying to figure out how the hundred tons of crops that are yielded on a daily basis can actually produce more nutritious produce. Whether it is from a specific soil or process, there is much interest to be had in how photosynthesis positively affects the type of crops that are produced for biofuels. A plant’s circulatory system is integral in the type of nutritional components that are infused into the food. When more nutrients are available, it improves the taste of the produce and the ability for it to positively impact human consumption.
Washington State University researchers started studying the correlation between the plant nutrients that were comprised via photosynthesis. The researchers found a unique and critical structure where the nutrients are offloaded, giving science a new focal point in efforts to improve plant efficiency and productivity.
“If you can increase the sink strength by five percent, and you get five percent more product, you’d be looking at a multibillion-dollar market,” says professor of biological sciences at the WSU School of Biological Sciences, Michael Knoblauch. “What we eat is mostly fruits, roots and seeds, cereals and so on. And all this stuff is not at the place of photosynthesis. It’s at the place of unloading. So everything generated by photosynthesis is basically translocated to these so-called sinks. The unloading mechanism is a very important step because it determines how much a specific sink gets. So if we are able to modify the so-called sink strength, we can basically modify what fruit or root gets more.”
This can potentially have amazing effects in the ways of nutrition – an ongoing discovery for so many on the quest to improving their health and figuring out what types of vitamins and minerals they should be consuming on a regular basis. A recent analysis of a mustard plant showed how the growing roots and solutes could be transported and transmuted into neighboring cells.
While some molecules unload via a type of combined diffusion, others make their way through convection. Sugar must travel from a high concentration to low, via a process called plasmodesmata, which involves two pores connecting with cells close by. These pores provide the ability to have a specific flow resistance, which means they can release a necessary amount of discrete pulses which is referred to as “batch unloading.”
In order for these processes to make sense to researchers and scientists there must be an overarching understanding of the plant’s circulatory system, which more insights are beginning to make clearer as time goes on. It is a very intricate and elegant system. The more that is pulled the more that is then received. Knoblauch says: “If we are able to increase the sink strength of a specific sink of interest, then we can draw to this sink more nutrients of interest. If we want to make a tomato fruit a stronger sink by modifying phloem unloading – plant tissue that conducts metabolic products downwards from leaves – we draw more of the nutrients to the fruit and make more fruit product.”
The more this is readily researched, the more we can understand what’s required to shift how the produce that we consume grows to be even healthier and as nutritionally sound as possible. We can only benefit from this wealth of information.