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2022 MacDiarmid Medal: Fighting hunger and climate change with supercharged crops

The AgResearch Plant Biotechnology Team, comprising of team members Dr Greg Bryan, Dr Nick Roberts, and Dr Somrutai Winichayakul, has been presented the MacDiarmid Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for research on enhanced photosynthesis.

This technology has the potential to increase nutrient and energy density of forages and crops, improving productivity and animal performance whilst reducing environmental impacts of agriculture.

Agresearch team

From left: Dr Greg Bryan, Dr Somrutai Winichayakul, Dr Nick Roberts

The team developed a technology to produce and store oil in the green tissue of plants via the transfer of two genes. This not only increased leaf fatty acid content, but also enhanced photosynthesis by up to 24%. This technology has applications for all crops, and work is already underway in four key areas: forages, oilseeds, grains, and specialty/industrial crops. If successfully applied, it could simultaneously alleviate global hunger and slow climate change.

AgResearch Plant Biotechnology Team

From left: Michele Reid, Nick Roberts, Greg Bryan, Somrutai Winichayakul.

MacDiarmid Medal
For outstanding scientific research that demonstrates the potential for application for human benefit.

For research on enhanced photosynthesis, increasing nutrient and energy density of forages and crops to improve productivity and animal performance while reducing environmental impacts of agriculture.