Ancient Rubisco Proteins Tested in Bacteria; Some Carry Out Faster Photosynthesis & Could Be Used to Boost Crop Yields

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Rubisco is a protein complex that converts carbon dioxide in the air into sugar, for plants. It often mistakes carbon dioxide for regular oxygen because it evolved 2.4 billion years ago, before the earth became laden with oxygen. In a new study, researchers “resurrected” ancient Rubisco proteins from Nightshade plants, tested them in *E. coli* bacteria, and found that many had faster photosynthetic rates. These Rubisco proteins could possibly be placed into food crops, like cowpea and soybeans, to boost photosynthesis, remove carbon dioxide from the air, and increase crop yields.


Photosynthesis – is the process by which plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create oxygen and energy in the form of sugar.


It has already been observed that raised CO2 levels have increased levels of sugars and decreased levels of minerals in broccoli. So in all likelyhood it would occur in other plants. This sounds like a quick fix ignoring evolutions clever and necessary processes to arrive at the optimal solution. While the reason for these evolutionary derived settings might not be known, careful consideration needs to be undertaken to measure the risk/benifit and possibility of escape from targeted use.


I wonder if rapid growth would affect the nutritional characteristics of crops.


Rubisco does not perform photosynthesis. Rubisco can catalyze one important reaction involved in photosynthesis, which itself requires many very complex proteins and enzymes and even organelles aside from rubisco. Very often a faster Rubisco results in a plant that is less resistant to stress and less able to adapt to different environments, despite the higher rate of Rubisco activity.