Crop Biotech Update

Scientist Find Giant Reed Uses Photosynthesis Common to Soybean, Rice and Peanuts

March 9, 2016

Stephen P. Long, professor of crop sciences and plant biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, led a research team that found that Arundo donax, a giant reed that grows in the Mediterranean climate zones of the world, is unlike other prolific warm-weather grasses. This grass, which can annually grow up to 6 meters (~20 feet) in height, uses a type of photosynthesis that is more common to crop plants such as soybeans, rice and peanuts.

The team has confirmed that giant reed uses C3 photosynthesis, a less efficient type of photosynthesis, yet it is productive. According to Long, some studies suggest it could produce as much as 60 tons of dry matter per hectare, which is about the maximum from the C4 grass Miscanthus x giganteus, also known as giant elephant grass, considered very productive.

In their study, they found that the giant reed is a classical C3 plant, and the activity of Rubisco in the intact leaf was exceptionally high, as well as its capacity to generate the reductant that biochemically reduces the assimilated carbon dioxide to carbohydrate. They also found that the plant used no more more water per unit of carbon absorbed into its tissues than other C3 plants. Giant reed is a deep rooting plant, and is able to get plenty of water.

For more information, read the news release at the University of Illinois website.