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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Find Revelations about C4 Photosynthesis

November 25, 2011

A new grass family tree reveals how some grasses have evolved an efficient way of harvesting energy from the sun in hot, arid conditions. This new grass family was discovered by an international team of researchers who investigated how C4 strategy cam to be. They used DNA sequence data from three chloroplast genes to make the family tree of grasses. The resulting phylogeny represents 531 species, which includes 93 species for which DNA sequence data was previously unavailable.

According to Erika Edwards of Brown University, the results of their study suggests that C4 pathway has evolved in grasses more than 20 separate times within the last 30 or so millions of years. She also added that C4 evolution is like a one-way street because once the pathway evolves, there is no turning back.

The results of the study may help scientists develop more drought-tolerant grains.

Read more details at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03972.x/abstract.