Photorespiratory Bypass

Rubisco is the main enzyme that is responsible for capturing carbon dioxide and turning it into sugars for the plant. Turns out, that while Rubisco is one of the most vital components of photosynthesis—it’s not very good at its job in most crops such as cowpeas, soybeans, and rice. About 35 percent of the time, Rubisco tries to fix oxygen instead of carbon dioxide. This error produces a carbon compound called glycolate that the plant must recycle to salvage a portion of carbon that can be used in photosynthesis. This recovery process, however, costs the plant a large amount of energy. The RIPE team has created a shorter recovery pathway, conserving energy and resources that the plant can reinvest to increase crop productivity by as much as 40 percent, according to work published in Science in 2019. Right now our team is translating these findings to key food crops including potatoes and soybean. 

Doug Allen
Kwangryul Baek
Jose Barrero headshot
Debarati Basu
Ryan Boyd
Amanda Cavanagh
Kamel Chibani_Headshot
Nick Ferrari
Jessica Fowler Headshot
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Yong-Su Jin
Sarah I. Jones
Donald Ort
Paul South
Sam Stutz
Hacking photosynthesis

We Can Grow 60% More Food By Hacking Photosynthesis

Hacking photosynthesis could grow up to 60% more food, on the same land we use today, according to an international team of researchers.

By: Amanda Winkler || Freethink 

Illustration of a plant.

How we’ll reengineer crops for a changing climate

Genetic changes to food crops can’t solve all the problems associated with climate change, but they can help.

By: Laura Howes || Chemical & Engineering News

sun, sky, wheat

How can we feed 11 billion people?

The challenge to produce enough food to feed our growing population.

By: BBC World Service | The Inquiry

Three researchers stand in field trial.

Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth by 40 percent

The RIPE project has engineered a shortcut for photorespiration—an energy-expensive process—and increased crop productivity by 40 percent.


Newly characterized protein has potential to save U.S. farmers millions annually

Instead of turning carbon into food, many plants accidentally make a plant-toxic compound during photosynthesis that is recycled through a process called photorespiration. University of Illinois and USDA/ ARS researchers report in Plant Cell the discovery of a key protein in this process, which they hope to manipulate to increase plant productivity.