According To Dixon ... Invest in science now or pay the price later

Our world is green. Coniferous forests, prairies, tropical rainforests and the smallest backyard gardens are all green because plants contain chlorophyll. This substance is the framework in leaves and stems where water and carbon dioxide are turned into life's building-blocks. It is outlined in school textbooks. Processes that construct natural materials require energy. Here it comes from sunlight in the process of photosynthesis.

Most basic chemical steps in this construction-process are well charted. But how energy itself is collected from sunlight and then transferred into new substances is less clear. Sunlight is a dilute energy source. Consequently, in nature, collecting and transferring its energy is a slow process even on a bright summer day.

Photosynthesis is an ancient process evolving very early in the development of life on Earth, hence it is also rather sedate. Much of it is also very similar, conserved, across plant types from marine algae to forest trees.

Artificially increasing the efficiency of light-harvesting from sunlight is one of science's major prizes. It is as important as finding cures for cancers and other human diseases. This is a route towards much increased food supplies and better nutritional qualities. This task needs teams of biologists, chemists and particularly physicists - the latter because light is a curious entity that perplexed even great physicists such as Einstein.

China is an international leader in this research - hardly surprising since China urgently needs increased food supplies. Britain should be concerned by their single-minded approach, resulting in high-quality, internationally recognised science.

Recent publications from Beijing show how light-harvesting is regulated and its packets of energy are moved in plant cells. China is deploying money and people for science that will result in practical technologies. Without similar commitment we will eventually buy their technologies for use in our crops and gardens.

Professor Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of GreenGene international


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Business planning - improving productivity through training

Business planning - improving productivity through training

How to create a structured training programme for your staff to give your business a competitive edge, by Neville Stein.

Pest & Disease Management - Nursery hygiene

Pest & Disease Management - Nursery hygiene

How to create an effective hygiene programme that will support profitable growing.

Zantedeschia

Zantedeschia

These elegant plants feature a variety of striking flower shapes in a range of colours, writes Miranda Kimberley.


Opinion... Winning support for nursery stock

Opinion... Winning support for nursery stock

Regardless of whether or not you voted for Brexit (I voted to remain), most politicians seem to think that it is now going to happen. What will that mean for nursery stock production in the UK?

Editorial ... Supporting horticultural excellence

Editorial ... Supporting horticultural excellence

The team at Horticulture Week are delighted to launch the leading industry awards schemes for 2018 supporting, encouraging and broadcasting excellence across all areas of horticulture business, people and places.

Opinion... Pepper breeders' wealth of knowledge

Opinion... Pepper breeders' wealth of knowledge

Peter Seabrook looks forward to garden centre pepper-tasting weekends.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles