The biotech firm Benson Hill Biosystems and the seed company Beck’s say their six-year-old partnership has yielded a trait that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis in hybrid corn.
The trait, a result of traditional genetic modification with noncorn DNA, has been tested in field trials for three years, the partners say. The trials show it significantly increases yields in a range of environments and in different corn hybrids.
“There has not been nearly the development dollars and research effort in traits around nondefensive traits compared to those for, say, insect resistance,” [Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp] says. “There are a lot of targets that have not received attention: photosynthesis, sustainability, and nutrition. It’s a ripe area of opportunity to innovate.”
Crisp won’t disclose the organism that is the source of the hopped-up photosynthetic ability. But he says it makes the corn plant more efficient at fixing carbon from atmospheric CO2 and turning it into sugar. The ability results in a mid-single-digit or higher percentage increase in yield, partly because each cob contains more kernels.
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