Researchers from Lancaster University working on key crops in sub-Saharan Africa have discovered an imperfection in a critical enzyme within cowpea and believe this imperfection is also present in other crops.
In the study published in Nature Plants, Professor Carmo-Silva and Lancaster University Senior Research Associate Dr. Sam Taylor found that as cowpea leaves go into the shade, the activity of the enzyme Rubisco drops more rapidly than was previously thought. The researchers used a high-throughput biochemical method to show that in cowpea leaves left in shade for as little as five minutes, Rubisco activity bottoms out, so even brief shading of leaves will lower the plant's photosynthetic productivity.
"Rubisco plays a central role in photosynthesis and frequently limits carbon assimilation in crop plants," said Elizabete Carmo-Silva. She added that leaves adjust the activity of Rubisco to the abundance of solar energy, but they found that this adjustment is imperfect, and frequently there is a mismatch between how active Rubisco is and how much solar energy is available for photosynthesis.
(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily.