Fraunhofer IME coordinates EU project “PhotoBoost“

Molecular Biology /

© Unsplash | Lars Blankers

On behalf of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME is coordinating the EU project PhotoBoost. The aim of the project is to boost the photosynthetic performance of crop plants like rice and potatoes by combining both novel and already established  molecular biology strategies.

There is an increased demand for food. The United Nations estimate that food production needs to double by 2050 to meet the needs of a continuously growing global population. At the same time there is growing pressure on land and resources caused by the expansion of urban areas, climate change and the use of arable land for the cultivation of bioenergy crops. In the context of the EU-funded project PhotoBoost a strong consortium of leading scientists will tackle this problem by developing and combining innovative strategies to boost the productivity of essential crops like potatoes and rice.


Photosynthesis: From sunlight to biochemical energy

Plants use photosynthesis to convert sunlight into biochemical energy, which is required for plant growth. The aim of the project is to “boost” the photosynthetic performance rate of essential crop plants – to increase biomass accumulation up to 25 percent – by combining already established individual strategies with novel approaches. These comprise, for instance, the optimisation of light reactions, the integration of algal CO2 concentration mechanisms or improved water-use efficiency by adapted stomatal conductance.

The Fraunhofer IME in Aachen coordinates the interdisciplinary project, which unites the expertise of 8 partners from Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, and the Philippines in the areas of synthetic biology, computational and system biology as well as applied plant research.

The team at the Fraunhofer IME will identify key proteins and protein combinations and introduce them into plants to increase the photosynthetic performance. Moreover, the Fraunhofer IME will provide important data to be used for metabolic modelling of photosynthesis, and to alter the metabolic pathways in potatoes to significantly increase biomass yields. Subsequently tests will be carried out under greenhouse and field conditions to evaluate the new plant lines with optimized photosynthetic performance for different climate scenarios and locations.

The project PhotoBoost is funded by the European Union with a total budget of 4.8 million euros and will end in March 2025.


Project coordination

·         Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Aachen, Germany


Project partners

·         Lancaster University, United Kingdom

·         University of Oxford, London, United Kingdom

·         International Rice Institute IRI, Los Baños, Philippines

·         Universad de Lleida, Spain

·         Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal

·         Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

·         KWS SAAT SE, Einbeck, Germany


Further information about the project