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Augmenting photosynthesis to enhance crop productivity using carbon dots

Bristol student theses: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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Abstract

If current trends continue, within the next few decades agriculture may not be able to meet the world population’s food demands. In response to this, considerable efforts are being made to enhance crop yields and the productivity per hectare of farmland by breeding, genetics and improving agricultural practices. This has traditionally been successful however there is certainly potential to build on these developments by applying new radical methods. The increased demand is also combined with the negative effects of climate change with associated loss of farmland and degradation of soils, which has prompted researchers to develop novel and radical methods to augment crops including recent work which has begun exploring the use of nanomaterials. Photosynthesis in crops is limited by their ability to exploit solar energy for photochemistry and the downstream molecular and enzymatic process, and as a consequence is often very inefficient. The capacity to interact with these pathways can lead to dramatic increases in productivity whilst also enable the tailoring of crops for different environments and to compensate for predicted climate changes.
Here, I evaluate the application of functionalised carbon dots to augment photosynthesis. I design and characterise carbon dots that are bio-available and interact with photosynthetic machinery whilst retaining a relatively simple and low-cost synthesis. I will then demonstrate how they can be applied to a relevant crop species to realise increased yield. This thesis aims to provide evidence that functional nanomaterials may provide enhanced future food security.

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Original languageEnglish
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Award date23 Jan 2019

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