According to a study published in the journal Molecular Plant, a new bioengineering approach to boost photosynthesis in rice plants could increase grain yield by up to 27 percent.
The approach, known as GOC bypass, nourishes plants cells with carbon dioxide to keep it from loss to a metabolic process called photorespiration.
Researchers developed a strategy to divert carbon dioxide from photorespiration to photosynthesis. In the study, they converted a molecule produced from photorespiration, called glycolate, into carbon dioxide using three rice enzymes: glycolate oxidase, oxalate oxidase, and catalase, which the method is named after.
They then introduced genes that encoded the enzymes into rice chloroplasts, or a part of the plant cell where photosynthesis takes place.
As a result, the genetically-enhanced plants turned out to be greener, larger, and displayed more efficiency in field conditions.
Researches are already eyeing to try out the approach to other field crops such as potatoes.
The study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Science and Technology Project of Guangzhou City.