Biotechnology

Aiming for a better carbon fix in plants

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Science  14 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6211, pp. 823
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6211.823-b

Enhancing the output of Rubisco, an enzyme that converts atmospheric CO2 into energy-rich molecules, could improve photosynthetic efficiency, and therefore crop yield, in plants. Maize is a C4 grass, which uses four-carbon compounds to carry CO2 into an interior compartment; subsequent release of CO2 increases its local concentration and favors efficient activity of Rubisco. Rice, however, is a C3 grass and lacks this pathway. Wang et al. compared transcripts and metabolites in developing maize and rice plants as a step toward understanding the biochemical and anatomical bases of C4 photosynthesis. Furthermore, Lin et al. transplanted Rubisco from a cyanobacterium, which also relies on a CO2-concentrating apparatus, into tobacco (a C3 plant) chloroplasts.

Nat. Biotech. 32, 10.1038/nbt.3019 (2014); Nature 513, 547 (2014).

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