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Increasing crop productivity by engineering an alternative photorespiration pathway

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Johannes Kromdijk.

Meeting food demands for the growing global human population requires improving crop productivity, and large gains are possible through enhancing photosynthetic efficiency. Photosynthesis requires the carboxylation of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (RuBisCO), but photorespiration occurs in most plants such as soybean, rice, and wheat (known as C3 crops) when RuBisCO oxygenates RuBP instead, requiring costly processing of toxic byproducts such as glycolate. Photorespiration can reduce C3 crop photosynthetic efficiency by 20 to 50%. Multiple attempts have been undertaken to overcome this yield penalty and thereby increase biomass production in plants, with limited success to date. In this seminar I will present our recent results with a synthetic pathway that fully detoxifies 2-PGlycolate inside plant chloroplasts. Field grown transgenic tobacco plants expressing this pathway show strongly enhanced biomass production, suggesting that our manipulations could be used to improve crop yields.

Amanda is a postdoctoral researcher at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (University of Illinois) and she will present some of her breakthrough results, that recently made headlines (Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the field. Science 363 (6422) p45).

This talk is part of the What's on in Plant Sciences series.

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