Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences | JIRCAS

Improved photosynthetic efficiency in rice increases yield by up to 30%

Related Research Program: 
4th Medium to Long-Term PlanStable Agricultural Production
  • 東北大学
  • 岩手大学
  • 国際農研


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has warned of a serious food crisis as the world's population continues to grow. The green revolution in the 1960’s has succeeded in developing short culm varieties of rice and wheat, and increase the yield by relying on application of large amount of nitrogen fertilizers. However, excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers in agricultural lands causes environmental pollution and has become a major social problem. Therefore, rather than simply breeding crops with high grain yield, development of crops with increased yield for the same nitrogen fertilization rate has become an urgent and more sustainable approach. A research group of Tohoku University in collaboration with the Iwate University and the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) has successfully developed transgenic rice with high photosynthetic efficiency by overexpression of the Rubisco gene involved in fixation of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis using gene recombination technology. The Rubisco-enhanced rice contains about 1.3 times the enzyme Rubisco and showed high nitrogen use efficiency. Yield evaluation conducted at an isolated experimental paddy field in Tohoku University showed up to 28% increase in grain yield under cultivation with sufficient nitrogen fertilization. This is the first field experiment in the world that demonstrates an improvement in photosynthesis linked to yield increase due to a higher nitrogen use efficiency in rice. These results are expected to contribute greatly in averting global food crisis in the future and conserving the environment.

The results of this research were published in the international journal Nature Food on February 18, 2020.


Dong-Kyung Yoon, Keiki Ishiyama, Mao Suganami, Youshi Tazoe, Mari Watanabe, Serina Imaruoka, Maki Ogura, Hiroyuki Ishida, Yuji Suzuki, Mitsuhiro Obara, Tadahiko Mae and Amane Makino
Transgenic rice overproducing Rubisco exhibits increased yields with improved nitrogen-use efficiency in an experimental paddy field
Nature Food (2020) 1:134-139 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0033-x

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Dr. MAKINO Amane

Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University



Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University