Biotech Updates

Scientists Discover Gene Responsible for C4 Photosynthesis

January 30, 2013

A recent breakthrough in agricultural research is expected to greatly help the planet's quest to feed modern diets to additional mouths while using the same amounts of water, fertilizer and arable land as a group of scientists from Cornell University was able to identify a gene which is crucial to a more efficient photosynthesis known as C4 photosynthesis. The gene, called Scarecrow, is the first gene discovered to control a special leaf structure, known as Kranz anatomy, which is essential to C4 mechanism in plant's photosynthesis.

Plants photosynthesize using one of two methods: C3, a less efficient, ancient method found in most plants, including wheat and rice; and C4, a more efficient adaptation employed by grasses, maize, sorghum and sugarcane that is better suited to drought, intense sunlight, heat and low nitrogen. According to the researchers, if C4 photosynthesis is successfully transferred to C3 plants through genetic engineering, farmers could grow wheat and rice in hotter, dryer environments with less fertilizer.

View Cornell University's news release at