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.”
Fifty million children in the world’s poorest countries will be vaccinated against the deadly rotavirus by 2015, thanks to the breakthrough work of a quiet Melbourne researcher.
Ruth Bishop’s rotavirus discovery led to the development of the vaccine currently being rolled out by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation—and to her declaration as 2013 CSL Florey Medal winner.
Each year, around half a million children die from rotavirus infection and the acute gastroenteritis it causes.