Looking at plants as factories for the production of food and industrial raw materials, one sees three aspects of prime importance. The first is the overall biomass production; second is the proportion of biomass that is accessible to human consumption, which is given by the so-called harvest index; the third is the quality of the harvestable material.
Plant biotechnology offers a wide array of possibilities for modifying the physiology and metabolism of crop plants, and it will be a key question to the future prosperity of man whether we will be able to exploit these possibilities to optimize plant production with respect to human needs. As biomass production by plants is initially the fixation of energy as carbohydrates, modifying carbohydrate metabolism is one of the main aspects of plant biotechnology.
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