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.”
Hugh Possingham and his team are making conservation more efficient. They’re helping to save less fashionable threatened species by getting more bang for the bucks donated to cute and cuddly species.
The team of ecologists and mathematicians in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Environmental Decisions (CEED) worked with the New Zealand government to assess how to better spend money that is donated to conservation. They’ve shown that by protecting habitats shared by several different species, the money donated to charismatic ones can be stretched further to save other species as well.
“The way we currently attempt to save species is inefficient, choosing species that are popular or charismatic, like koalas and tigers, over those that are less well known or even ugly, like the blobfish,” says Hugh, ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of CEED.
Terry Speed doesn’t expect to see headlines reading “Statistician cures cancer” any time soon. But he knows that maths and stats can help researchers understand the underlying causes of cancer and reduce the need for surgery.
A mathematician and statistician, he has written elegant theoretical papers that almost no-one reads. But he has also testified in court, helped farmers and diamond miners, and given biologists statistical tools to help them cope with the genetic revolution.
Over the past three years Australia has established and advanced a unique national engagement model—working with governments at all levels, with science sector agencies and organisations, as well as industry.
Science and art have combined to bring hand-drawn content for holographic TV and other 3D display technologies a step closer, thanks to research at the Australian National Fabrication Facility’s NSW node (ANFF-NSW) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
Unlike the traditional method of making a hologram—which involves reflecting a laser off a real object—the new technique simulates objects within computer software. In a recent test, a virtual, digital hologram file was produced and etched as a 3 mm-wide nanoscale pattern onto a glass plate using ANFF-NSW’s Electron Beam Lithography facility. When laser light was shone through the glass, a 3D hologram sprang into life.