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Commun Biol. 2019 Aug 16;2:314. doi: 10.1038/s42003-019-0561-9. eCollection 2019.

Overexpression of the Rieske FeS protein of the Cytochrome b 6 f complex increases C4 photosynthesis in Setaria viridis.

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1Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, Division of Plant Science, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Acton, Australian Capital Territory 2601 Australia.
2School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ UK.


C4 photosynthesis is characterised by a CO2 concentrating mechanism that operates between mesophyll and bundle sheath cells increasing CO2 partial pressure at the site of Rubisco and photosynthetic efficiency. Electron transport chains in both cell types supply ATP and NADPH for C4 photosynthesis. Cytochrome b 6 f is a key control point of electron transport in C3 plants. To study whether C4 photosynthesis is limited by electron transport we constitutively overexpressed the Rieske FeS subunit in Setaria viridis. This resulted in a higher Cytochrome b 6 f content in mesophyll and bundle sheath cells without marked changes in the abundances of other photosynthetic proteins. Rieske overexpression plants showed better light conversion efficiency in both Photosystems and could generate higher proton-motive force across the thylakoid membrane underpinning an increase in CO2 assimilation rate at ambient and saturating CO2 and high light. Our results demonstrate that removing electron transport limitations can increase C4 photosynthesis.


C4 photosynthesis; Molecular engineering in plants

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