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Plants engineered with algae genes could increase crop yields

| | August 28, 2017
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

To meet the food demands of a rising global population, innovative strategies are required to increase crop yields. Improvements in plant photosynthesis by genetic engineering show considerable potential towards this goal. One prospective approach is to introduce a CO2 concentrating mechanism into crop plants to increase carbon fixation by supplying the central carbon-fixing enzyme, Rubisco, with a higher concentration of its substrate, CO2. A promising donor organism for the molecular machinery of this mechanism is the eukaryotic alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

The Chlamydomonas CCM [CO2 concentrating mechanism] elevates CO2 around Rubisco, thereby enhancing photosynthesis…It is anticipated that the pace of advancement will accelerate with both the availability of the Chlamydomonas mutant library and the maturation of large-scale systems biology approaches. Modeling studies are urgently needed to guide the stepwise transfer of components from Chlamydomonas to higher plants. In addition, approaches adapted from synthetic biology and pathway-engineering fields could facilitate the assembly of a CCM in a fast growing, ‘stepping stone’ organism, which could aid our understanding of the minimal components needed for a functional CCM. Engineering a Chlamydomonas or hybrid CCM into a C3 [crop] plant is a grand challenge and with the correct resources could become a reality.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: The Chlamydomonas CO2-concentrating mechanism and its potential for engineering photosynthesis in plants

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