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
Ryan Boyd
Amanda Cavanagh
Yong-Su Jin
Donald Ort headshot
Paul South
Sam Stutz
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

Screenshot from France24 news segment.

The high-tech food chain

From farmlands to kitchens, technology is playing a pivotal role in ensuring better yields and disease-free food. 

By: France 24

Two scientists measure photosynthesis.

Hacking photosynthesis to re-engineer crop plants and feed the world

The next 'green revolution' will necessitate a radical redesign of how plants work.

By: Quirks & Quarks | CBC Radio

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.

team

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.