In C3 photosynthesis, Rubisco initiates carbon assimilation through the carboxylation of RuBP. The activity of the enzyme is regulated by interaction with a number of protein partners, including the molecular chaperone Rubisco activase. Recent evidence suggests that speeding up the light induction of photosynthesis through faster Rubisco activation can increase crop productivity by over 20%.
RIPE is searching a range of cowpea cultivars and crop wild-relatives adapted to diverse geographical regions for natural variation in the regulation of Rubisco activity. Physiological, biochemical, molecular, and in silico analyses enable a multi-layered approach to produce novel germplasm with improved Rubisco function, either via gene editing or conventional breeding.