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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.

Call for proposal

H2020-FETOPEN-2014-2015

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Sub call

H2020-FETOPEN-2014-2015-RIA

Coordinator

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV
Net EU contribution
€ 1 934 025,00
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munchen
Germany

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Region
Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00

Participants (4)

IN SRL IMPRESA SOCIALE
Italy
Net EU contribution
€ 203 750,00
Address
Via Carducci 9a
33100 Udine

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SME

The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Yes
Region
Nord-Est Friuli-Venezia Giulia Udine
Activity type
Other
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE
United Kingdom
Net EU contribution
€ 955 215,00
Address
South Kensington Campus Exhibition Road
SW7 2AZ London

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Region
London Inner London — West Westminster
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Israel
Net EU contribution
€ 875 887,50
Address
Herzl Street 234
7610001 Rehovot

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
EVOGENE LTD
Israel
Net EU contribution
€ 902 532,50
Address
13 Gad Feinstein St
7612002 Rehovot

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SME

The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Yes
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00