By operating a CO2 concentrating mechanism, C4-photosynthesis offers highly successful solutions to remedy the inefficiency of the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco. C4-plant Rubisco has characteristically evolved faster carboxylation rates with low CO2 affinity. Owing to high CO2 concentrations in bundle sheath chloroplasts, faster Rubisco enhances resource use efficiency in C4 plants by reducing the energy and carbon costs associated with photorespiration and lowering the nitrogen investment in Rubisco. Here, we show that C4-Rubisco from some NADP-ME species, such as maize, are also of potential benefit to C3-photosynthesis under current and future atmospheric CO2 pressures. Realizing this bioengineering endeavour necessitates improved understanding of the biogenesis requirements and catalytic variability of C4-Rubisco, as well as the development of transformation capabilities to engineer Rubisco in a wider variety of food and fibre crops.
• Rubisco catalysis has differentially evolved in response to the CCM of C4-plants.
• C3-photosynthesis could benefit from Rubisco from NADP-ME C4-species like maize.
• Catalytic switches in both Rubisco subunits can influence C4 Rubisco catalysis.
• Rubisco biogenesis discoveries in maize have advanced Rubisco studies in plastids.