In a new development, scientists at Cornell University have engineered a major plant enzyme and installed it in E.Coli bacteria. The objective is to create optimal experimentation conditions and study how to speed up photosynthesis.
The method is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Plants.
According to scientific knowledge, crop yields increase if photosynthesis could be accelerated. During photosynthesis, plants convert water, carbon dioxide, and light into oxygen and finally into sucrose.
Key Plant Enzyme Rubisco focus of Research
Rubisco – a slow enzyme that extracts carbon from carbon dioxide to form sucrose is the focus of researchers. Along with CO2, Rubisco sometimes speeds up a reaction with oxygen from the air. In doing so, the enzyme forms a byproduct and wastes energy, for inefficient photosynthesis.
“Ideally, it is desired for Rubisco to not to interact with oxygen and also work faster,” stated a plant molecular biology expert at Cornell.
To attain this, researchers obtained Rubisco from tobacco plants and instituted it into E.Coli. Prio to this, mutations made to improve the enzyme and then test in E.Coli.
With bacteria, the advantage is that it reproduces so rapidly, thereby allowing researchers to test a changed Rubisco in E.Coli next day and get results. Meanwhile, if a new Rubisco instituted into a plant, it requires to wait few months to get results.
And, in another work by a group of researchers, who instituted tobacco Rubisco into E.Coli resulted in very weak expression of the enzyme.
Anatomically, in plants, Rubisco is made of eight small and eight large subunits. A single gene of the enzyme encodes each large subunit, but a number of genes encode each small subunit.