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Transforming the future of agriculture through synthetic photorespiration

Objective

For a new green revolution to feed the continually increasing population, agriculture productivity will have to be significantly improved. Photorespiration represents a big challenge in this respect, because it dissipates energy and leads to the futile loss of CO2, thereby limiting plant growth yield. Implementing an efficient metabolic bypass for photorespiration can therefore increase the photosynthetic efficiency of many cultivated crops. Several such routes were previously proposed. However, these routes were limited to existing enzymes and pathways and provided only partial improvement. Here, we propose a radically different approach: to engineer entirely novel CO2-neutral or CO2-positive photorespiration bypasses based on novel enzyme chemistry that support significantly higher agricultural yields. These bypass routes could support 60% higher biomass yield per turn of the Calvin Cycle and >30% higher yield per ATP. Our project innovatively integrates different research disciplines and combines academic research with industrial implementation. In silico studies will integrate biochemical logic and pathway modelling to explore all possible photorespiration pathways and identify the most efficient routes. In vitro research will establish novel enzyme functions via enzyme engineering and directed evolution. Full pathways will be reconstituted and optimized in vitro using a novel mass spectrometry based platform. High in vivo activity will be selected by implementing the pathways in engineered E. coli strains. Enhanced photosynthetic efficiency will be demonstrated in cyanobacteria expressing the synthetic pathways. Finally, the most promising synthetic pathways will be implemented in higher plants and growth phenotypes will be monitored. The proposed project comprises a significant advance in synthetic biology – applying biochemical principles to modify the very core of carbon metabolism with synthetic pathways that carry multiple novel enzymatic functions.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/synthetic biology
  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture
  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture/plant breeding/crops
  • /agricultural sciences/agricultural biotechnology/biomass
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins/enzymes
  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/analytical chemistry/mass spectrometry
  • /social sciences/economics and business/economics/production economics/productivity

Call for proposal

H2020-FETOPEN-2014-2015-RIA
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

RIA - Research and Innovation action

Coordinator

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Muenchen
Germany
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 1 934 025

Participants (4)

IN SRL
Italy
EU contribution
€ 203 750
Address
Via Carducci 9A
33100 Udine
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 955 215
Address
South Kensington Campus Exhibition Road
SW7 2AZ London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Israel
EU contribution
€ 875 887,50
Address
Herzl Street 234
7610001 Rehovot
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EVOGENE LTD
Israel
EU contribution
€ 902 532,50
Address
13 Gad Feinstein St
7612002 Rehovot
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)