Most plants use the C3 pathway of photosynthesis that is compromised by gross inefficiencies in CO2 fixation. However, some plants use a super-charged photosynthetic mechanism called C4 photosynthesis. The C4 pathway is used by the most productive vegetation and crops on Earth. In addition to faster photosynthesis, C4 plants demand less water and less nitrogen. Overall, our aim is to introduce the characteristics of C4 into C3 crops. This would increase yield, reduce land area needed for cultivation, decrease irrigation, and limit fertiliser applications. If current C3 crops could be converted to use C4 photosynthesis, large economic and environmental benefits would ensue from both their increased productivity and the reduced inputs associated with the C4 pathway. It is important to note that the huge advances in agricultural production associated with the Green Revolution were not associated with increases in photosynthesis, and so its manipulation remains an unexplored target for crop improvement both for food and biomass. Even partial long-term success would have significant economic and environmental benefits. Efficient C4 photosynthesis would be achieved by alterations to leaf development, cell biology and biochemistry. Although initially we will be using model species such as rice and Arabidopsis we envisage rapid transfer of technological advances into mainstream EU crops, such as wheat and rape, that are used both for food and fuel. We will build capacity for C4 research in Europe in this area by the training of future generations of researchers. To achieve this aim we need to increase our understanding of the basic biology underlying the C4 pathway. Our specific objectives will therefore address fundamental aspects of C4 biology that are needed for a full understanding the pathway.
Specifically we aim:
1. To understand the roles and development of the two cell types (mesophyll and bundle sheath) in C4 plants.
2. To identify mechanisms controlling the ex
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