Biotech Updates

Scientists Promote Production of Enzyme for Plant Growth

March 11, 2015

Australian scientists led by Dr. Spencer Whitney from The Australian National University (ANU) have found a way to improve the production of an enzyme essential to plant growth. The team found RAF1, a partner protein of Rubisco, the most abundant protein on the planet.

According to Dr. Whitney, Rubisco has baffled scientists for years because it is less efficient at its job than most other enzymes. It is responsible for the conversion of carbon dioxide to organic compounds, yet it needs the assistance of more than 12 other proteins to assemble it correctly. The team found that when Rubisco is supplied with RAF1, the amount of Rubisco produced in leaves doubled.

Dr. Whitney said "We improved the production of a modified Rubisco in leaves by inserting a modified complimentary version of RAF1. RAF1 caused Rubisco's levels to double, and as a result, we obtained faster rates of photosynthesis and plant growth compared to the plants where RAF1 was not introduced."

The results of their study are published in the March 2 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. For other details, read the news release at the ANU website.