An international research team has found they can increase corn productivity by targeting the enzyme in charge of capturing CO2 from the atmosphere. "We developed a transgenic maize designed to produce more Rubisco, the main enzyme involved in photosynthesis, and the result is a plant with improved photosynthesis and hence, growth. This could potentially increase tolerance to extreme growth conditions," said lead researcher Dr. Robert Sharwood from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, led by The Australian National University (ANU). "There is an urgent need to deliver new higher-yielding and highly adapted crop species, before crops are affected by the expected climate change conditions. These conditions will increase the threats against global food security, and the only way to prepare for them is through international research collaborations." Central to this process is Rubisco, the main enzyme of photosynthesis, which is in charge of converting CO2 into organic compounds. In C4 plants, Rubisco works much faster and they are more tolerant to heat and drought through better water use efficiency. "Maize has one of the most efficient Rubiscos and they need less nitrogen to work. So, our main question was, if we increase Rubisco content in maize, what would it do for the plant? We found that by boosting Rubisco inside the maize cells, we get an increase in crop productivity," said co-researcher David Stern, from the Boyce Thompson Institute an affiliate of Cornell University.
(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com)