Featured Profile: John Boyer
University of Missouri plant scientist Dr. John Boyer helps plants hold water.
Boyer grew interested in drought because it regularly affected the small farm where he was raised. Now he is renowned worldwide for his drought research.
Crop plants reproduce by forming seeds which humans and livestock can eat, such as corn or wheat. In normal conditions, plants feed themselves by converting sunlight, air and water into sugars. They also “breathe” water into the air. Boyer discovered that when water levels are low, plants breathe less – at the cost of feeding themselves. As a result, these undernourished plants don’t reproduce.
Boyer has demonstrated that injecting plants with sugars allows them to reproduce when water is scarce. While the process is not directly practical for crop production, it allows scientists to hone in on the chemistry of drought-stricken plants and gets them a step closer to producing plants that create seeds during drought.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. John Boyer has published close to 150 articles and books and holds one patent. In 2014, he joined MU with support from The Mizzou Advantage initiative. He is a distinguished research professor in plant sciences at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and a member of MU’s Interdisciplinary Plant Group.
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Food for the Future