For the first time flowering plants have been successfully engineered to fix carbon like the blue-green algae do – this can potentially increase photosynthesis and yields in crop plants.
Plants, algae and some bacteria capture light energy from the sun and transform it into chemical energy by the process named photosynthesis. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) have a more efficient mechanism in carrying out photosynthesis than plants. For a long time now, it has been suggested that if plants could carry out photosynthesis with a similar mechanism to that of the blue-green algae, plant productivity and hence crop yields could improve.
Rothamsted Research scientists strategically funded by the BBSRC and in collaboration with colleagues at Cornell University funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation have used genetic engineering of tobacco plants - a tobacco plant can been seen above - to demonstrate for the first time that flowering plants can carry out photosynthesis utilizing a faster bacterial Rubisco enzyme rather than their own slower Rubisco enzyme. These findings represent a milestone toward the goal of improving the photosynthetic rate in crop plants.
Copyright: Rothamsted Research