In what might be an answer to the increasing global population and ensuing food crisis, Australian scientists have claimed discovering a way to boost crop yields that can help improve productivity.
Newcastle university researchers said they have found that by knocking out a gene from the genetic code of a tomato plant, it grows sweeter fruit and has longer-lasting leaves.
University's professor Yong-Ling Ruan said the same technique could be used in a range of plants to boost crop yield and shelf-life.
"With predictions the global population may double over the next 50 years, scientists are concerned about the pressure on the world's natural resources," Ruan said. "Faced with the impact of climate change and population increases on food supply, our research is helping to meet the challenge of how to sustain and improve crop yield and quality," he added.
Ruan said scientists would need at least another five years to take the technique from the lab to the paddock.
The research was conducted at Australia-China Research Centre for Crop Improvement - a joint initiative of the University of Newcastle and the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Hangzhou, China.
"A major focus of the centre is to improve the productivity of key food crops and make them more adaptable to climate change," Ruan said.