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—t’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 the carbon to use in photosynthesis.
This recovery process, however, costs the plant a large amount of energy. By creating a shorter pathway, this recovery process requires less energy, conserving resources that the plant can invest to increase productivity by as much as 40 percent, according to work published in Science in 2019.