The discovery of C4 photosynthesis at a Brisbane sugar refinery 50 years ago spawned a whole new field of plant biology and is now well on the way to feeding the world.
Three billion people rely on rice for survival, but C4 plants like maize and sugarcane grow faster, have higher yields, and are more drought-tolerant.
“C4 plants photosynthesise faster thanks to a biochemical ‘supercharger’ that concentrates CO2 in specialised structures in their leaves,” says Professor Bob Furbank from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.
“If we can modify rice to use the C4 pathway, instead of C3, we can improve rice production and double its water efficiency.”
Better vaccines are needed for the global fight against tuberculosis (TB). The Global Fund reports an estimated nine million new cases globally per year of TB, which is second only to AIDS as the world’s most deadly infectious disease.
Indonesia had more than 320,000 reported cases in 2014 according to the World Health Organization, while Australia’s reported cases were just over 1,000. But the rise of drug-resistant TB poses a threat to all countries.