Genetic Engineers Aim to Soup Up Crop Photosynthesis

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Science  15 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5400, pp. 314-316
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5400.314

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To improve crops' ability to turn atmospheric carbon dioxide into food, genetic engineers have focused on RuBisCO--the principal catalyst for photosynthesis and a notoriously inefficient enzyme. They hope to either replace the RuBisCO found in food crops with the more efficient form found in red algae or bolt on what could be thought of as molecular superchargers. This will be no easy feat, but with many other avenues toward increasing crop yields seemingly blocked (see p. 310), RuBisCO has become an increasingly tempting target.