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Meridian Institute

Turbocharging a New Green Revolution

Summary posted by Meridian on 7/21/2011

Source: University of Cambridge

Author(s): n/a

This article discusses some of the activities of the C4 Rice Consortium, two years following its formation. The C4 Rice Consortium is led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and involves 12 partner institutions across four continents. Its ambitious aim is to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis in rice by transferring the capabilities of efficient “C4” plants to rice, which is a more common “C3” plant. Consortium members have been working on a number of complementary approaches, the press release says. A research team led by Julian Hibberd of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. has been cloning genes required for C4 biochemical reactions; transgenic varieties of rice with the cloned genes are being grown at IRRI in the Philippines. Other groups are looking for C4 mutants that have lost their special characteristics, and C3 mutants that have developed it. And “a vast gene sequencing screen” is searching for new C4 genes. Algal photosynthesis is also being studied. According to the press release, recent findings by Julian Hibberd’s research team suggest that genes present in C3 species can be recruited into cell-specific functions in the C4 pathway without alterations to their gene sequence. “The discovery [published in the journal Science] dramatically alters the approaches being taken to engineer C4 photosynthesis . . . These results suggest that it’s possible that only some parts of the C4 pathway might be needed in rice for other parts to fall into place,” Hibberd says. The press release reports that C4 plants produce higher yields for the same amount of light energy, have double the water-use efficiency of C3 plants, and their leaves use about 40 percent less nitrogen to achieve 50 percent higher yields. The press release can be viewed online at the link below.

The original article may still be available at http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/turbocharging-a-new-green-revolution/

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