The processes which allow atmospheric CO2 to be captured and converted into sugars happen inside plant cells, in the chloroplasts. These processes have significant limitations associated with their function that could be improved, making plants more efficient at producing food.     Program 1 main goal is to discover ways of minimising CO2 limitation of photosynthesis in plants. Our plan is to overcome these limitations through directed genetic manipulation and selection of crop plants. These limitations are mainly related to the biochemical characteristics of the primary CO2-fixing enzyme, Rubisco. Rubisco is the most abundant protein on Earth and the most critical enzyme during photosynthesis. Evolution has reduced plant limitations to capture carbon dioxide by three main ways: improving the inefficient CO2 fixing enzyme Rubisco; improving the diffusion of CO2; and implementing mechanisms for the concentration of CO2 around the active site of Rubisco.

The enzyme Rubisco

Research areas in this Program include:
  • discovering how to produce better Rubisco enzymes and transplant them into the chloroplasts of crop plants
  • developing pathways to implement algal and cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter-based CO2 concentrating mechanisms in plant chloroplasts
  • understanding CO2 diffusion pathways in leaves with an aim to developing strategies to minimise this limitation.