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TSS独家报道:人工光合作用系统可能彻底改变粮食生产

Artificial Photosynthesis System could Revolutionize Food Production

By Rhodilee Jean A. Dolor

As the world’s population increases and amid a warming climate that threatens food security, researchers have been looking for ways to maximize food production. Plant yields improve with the use of better fertilizers, pesticides and farming techniques, but findings of a new study offer another alternative to boosting the world’s food resources.

随着世界人口的增加和威胁粮食安全的气候变暖,研究人员一直在寻找最大限度提高粮食产量的方法。使用更好的肥料、杀虫剂和耕作技术可以提高作物产量,但一项新研究的发现为增加世界粮食资源提供了另一种选择。

Primary Food Producers

初级食品生产者

Plants are indispensable to life on Earth because they are the primary food producers. They manufacture food that humans and animals consume through photosynthesis, a process through which water, carbon dioxide and energy from the sun are converted into plant material and food. Unfortunately, this biological food manufacturing process is inefficient because plants capture only about 1 percent of the solar energy that reaches Earth. 

植物对地球上的生命是不可或缺的,因为它们是主要的食物生产者。它们制造食物,人类和动物来消费,光合作用是将水、二氧化碳和来自太阳的能量转化为植物材料和食物的过程。不幸的是,这种生物食品制造过程效率低下,因为植物只能捕获到达地球的太阳能的1%左右。

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Delaware, however, have found a way to revolutionize food production in plants. In a new study published in the journal Nature Food on June 23, they described an energy-efficient means of cultivating plants. The experimental process allowed the researchers to grow plants without the need to expose them to direct sunlight. 

然而,来自加州大学河滨分校和特拉华大学的研究人员已经找到了一种方法来彻底改变植物的粮食生产。在6月23日发表在《自然食品》杂志上的一项新研究中,他们描述了一种高效节能的植物栽培方法。实验过程允许研究人员种植植物,而无需将其暴露在阳光直射下。

Growing Plants without Sunlight

无需阳光即可生长的植物

For their study, Robert Jinkerson, a chemical and environmental engineer from the University of California, Riverside, and colleagues used a two-step electrocatalytic process to cultivate food-producing organisms in the dark. 

在他们的研究中,加州大学河滨分校的化学和环境工程师罗伯特·金克森及其同事使用了两步电催化过程,在黑暗中培养生产食物的生物体。

The process involved using solar panels to power an electrolyzer, a device that uses electricity to convert raw materials such as carbon dioxide into useful molecules and other products. 

该过程涉及使用太阳能电池板为电解槽供电,该装置使用电力将二氧化碳等原材料转化为有用的分子和其他产品。

For their experiments, the researchers developed an electrolyzer to synthesize water, carbon dioxide and solar energy into acetate, the main component of vinegar. 

为了进行实验,研究人员开发了一种电解槽,将水、二氧化碳和太阳能合成醋酸盐,醋酸盐是醋的主要成分。

They increased the amount of acetate produced and decreased the amount of salt used so the output of the electrolyzer is optimized for supporting growth of food-producing organisms. 

他们增加了醋酸盐的产量,减少了盐的使用量,因此优化了电解槽的产量,以支持食品生产微生物的生长。

The technique resulted in the highest level of acetate ever produced in an electrolyzer. The researchers then used the acetate output of the device to cultivate yeast, mushroom-producing fungus and photosynthetic green algae without biological photosynthesis.

该技术产生了电解槽中有史以来最高水平的醋酸盐。然后,研究人员利用该装置的醋酸盐输出来培养酵母、蘑菇生产菌和无生物光合作用的光合绿藻。

“With our approach, we sought to identify a new way of producing food that could break through the limits normally imposed by biological photosynthesis,” Jinkerson said.

金克森说:“通过我们的方法,我们试图找到一种新的生产食物的方法,这种方法可以突破生物光合作用通常施加的限制。”

Jinkerson and colleagues found that a wide range of food-producing organisms can be grown in the dark by just using the acetate-rich electrolyzer output, including crop plants. They reported that cowpea, tomato, tobacco, rice, canola, and green pea can utilize carbon from acetate when they are cultivated without sunlight.

金克森和同事们发现,只要使用富含醋酸盐的电解槽产出,就可以在黑暗中种植多种粮食生产生物,包括农作物。他们报告说,豇豆、番茄、烟草、水稻、油菜和青豆在没有阳光的情况下种植时可以利用醋酸盐中的碳。

“We found that a wide range of crops could take the acetate we provided and build it into the major molecular building blocks an organism needs to grow and thrive,” said Marcus Harland-Dunaway, botany and plant scientist from UC Riverside. “With some breeding and engineering that we are currently working on, we might be able to grow crops with acetate as an extra energy source to boost crop yields.”

加州大学河滨分校的植物学和植物科学家马库斯·哈兰德·杜纳韦说:“我们发现,多种作物可以利用我们提供的醋酸盐,将其构建成生物体生长和茁壮成长所需的主要分子构件。”。“通过我们目前正在进行的一些育种和工程,我们可能能够种植含有醋酸盐作为额外能源的作物,以提高作物产量。”

The researchers also discovered that the artificial photosynthesis system that they used can be more energy efficient than the one that occurs in nature. Producing algae with this technology, for instance, is four times more efficient than with natural photosynthesis. The process can likewise be used along with normal photosynthesis, or in place of it. 

研究人员还发现,他们使用的人工光合作用系统比自然界中的系统更节能。例如,用这种技术生产藻类的效率是自然光合作用的四倍。同样,该过程也可以与正常光合作用一起使用,或替代光合作用。

“Coupling this approach to existing photovoltaic systems could increase solar-to-food energy conversion efficiency by about fourfold over biological photosynthesis, reducing the solar footprint required,” the researchers wrote in their study. “This technology allows for a reimagining of how food can be produced in controlled environments.”

研究人员在研究中写道:“将这种方法与现有的光伏系统相结合,可以将太阳能转换为食物的效率提高约四倍于生物光合作用,减少所需的太阳能足迹。”。“这项技术允许重新构思如何在受控环境中生产食物。”

Phase I Winner in NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge

美国宇航局深空食物挑战赛第一阶段冠军

The artificial photosynthesis system emerged as a Phase I winner in NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge, an international competition that recognizes and awards novel food technologies that can be used for long-duration space missions.

人工光合作用系统在美国宇航局的深空食物挑战赛(Deep Space Food Challenge)的第一阶段获奖,这是一项国际竞赛,旨在表彰和奖励可用于长期太空任务的新型食物技术。

NASA has been on the lookout for ways to produce food in space that can support life beyond Earth. Astronauts may use these technologies to produce food and medicine as they travel in space or establish colonies in dark and arid worlds. 

美国宇航局一直在寻找在太空生产食物的方法,以支持地球以外的生命。宇航员在太空旅行或在黑暗和干旱的世界建立殖民地时,可以使用这些技术生产食物和药物。

“Imagine someday giant vessels growing tomato plants in the dark and on Mars—how much easier would that be for future Martians?” said co-author Martha Orozco-Cárdenas, director of the UC Riverside Plant Transformation Research Center.

“想象一下,有一天,在黑暗中,在火星上种植番茄的巨大容器,对未来的火星人来说,这会变得多么容易?”合著者、加州大学河滨植物转化研究中心主任玛莎·奥罗斯科·卡德纳斯说。

Addressing Food Shortage Caused by Global Warming

解决全球变暖引起的粮食短缺问题

The food technology also sees potential application on Earth, where the rising temperature causes devastating droughts and floods. 

这项食品技术在地球上也有潜在的应用,在那里,气温上升会导致毁灭性的干旱和洪水。

The warming planet increases risk of drought by causing water to evaporate more quickly resulting in drier soils. Higher temperatures also diminish snowfall, and essential water resources, while disrupting precipitation by shifting storm tracks.

地球变暖导致水分蒸发更快,导致土壤干燥,从而增加了干旱风险。更高的温度也会减少降雪量和必要的水资源,同时通过改变风暴轨迹扰乱降水。

A study published in the Nature Climate Change.on Feb. 3 found that droughts occurring at the same time across different regions of the world as a result of a warming climate could have unprecedented impact on the global agricultural system and food availability. 

发表在《自然气候变化》上的一项研究。2月3日发现,由于气候变暖,世界不同地区同时发生的干旱可能对全球农业系统和粮食供应产生前所未有的影响。

Deepti Singh, from the School of the Environment at Washington State University said that this could increase the volatility of food prices, which can affect food access and worsen food insecurity, especially in regions that are already vulnerable to environmental shocks.

华盛顿州立大学环境学院的迪普蒂·辛格说,这可能会增加粮食价格的波动,从而影响粮食供应,加剧粮食不安全,特别是在已经容易受到环境冲击的地区。

“There could be around 120 million people across the globe simultaneously exposed to severe compound droughts each year by the end of the century,” Singh said. “Many of the regions our analysis shows will be most affected are already vulnerable, and so the potential for droughts to become disasters is high.”

辛格说:“到本世纪末,全球每年可能有约1.2亿人同时面临严重的复合干旱。”。“我们的分析显示,许多受影响最严重的地区已经很脆弱,因此干旱成为灾害的可能性很高。”

Jinkerson and colleagues, however, hope that the artificial photosynthesis system that they developed could help address food crisis. The technology makes it possible to cultivate plants without the need for direct sunlight so crops can grow in less resource-intensive environments and regardless of drought, flood and reduced land availability. 

然而,金克森和同事们希望他们开发的人工光合作用系统能够帮助解决粮食危机。这项技术使人们可以在不需要阳光直射的情况下种植植物,这样作物就可以在资源密集度较低的环境中生长,而不受干旱、洪水和土地可用性降低的影响。

“Using artificial photosynthesis approaches to produce food could be a paradigm shift for how we feed people,” said Jinkerson. “By increasing the efficiency of food production, less land is needed, lessening the impact agriculture has on the environment.”

金克森说:“利用人工光合作用的方法来生产食物可能是我们养活人类的一种范式转变。”,“通过提高粮食生产效率,减少了土地需求,减轻了农业对环境的影响。”

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