Biotech Updates

Scientists Design a More Productive Maize to Cope with Future Climates

October 3, 2018

An international research team has found that they can increase the productivity of maize by targeting the enzyme in charge of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Dr. Robert Sharwood from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis at The Australian National University (ANU), said they developed a transgenic maize that produces more Rubisco, the main enzyme involved in photosynthesis. The result is a plant with improved photosynthesis and hence, growth, Sharwood added.

Through photosynthesis, plants capture CO2 from the atmosphere, but not all plants do it in the same way. Wheat and rice use the C3 photosynthetic path, while maize and sorghum use the more efficient C4 path. In C4 plants, Rubisco works faster and they are more tolerant to heat and drought through better water use efficiency.

Co-researcher David Stern from the Boyce Thompson Institute, an affiliate of Cornell University, said they found that if they boost Rubisco inside the maize cells, crop productivity increases.

For more details, read the news release from ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.