The processes which allow atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) to be captured and converted into sugars during photosynthesis happen inside plant cells, in the chloroplasts. These processes have significant limitations that could be improved, making plants more efficient at producing food.

Program 1 aims to discover ways of minimising CO2 limitation of photosynthesis in plants through directed genetic manipulation and selection of crop plants. Professor Susanne von Caemmerer at ANU and Associate Professor Oula Ghannoum at WSU are the leaders of this Program.

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.

 

Research areas in this Program include:

 

Discovering how to produce better Rubisco enzymes and transplant them into the chloroplasts of crop plants. Rubisco is the most abundant protein on earth and the most critical enzyme during photosynthesis. Professor Spencer Whitney leads this project at ANU.

 

 

 

 

Developing pathways to implement algal and cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter-based CO2 concentrating mechanisms in plant chloroplasts. Professor Dean Price and Professor Murray Badger lead this project

 

 

 

 

Understanding CO2 diffusion pathways in leaves with an aim to developing strategies to minimise this limitation. This project is led by Professor Susanne von Caemmerer and Professor John Evans

 

 

 

Developing strategies to enhance C4 photosynthesis.  This project’s Chief Investigators include Professor Susanne von Caemmerer, Associate Professor Oula Ghannoum, Professor Robert Furbank and Professor John Evans.