Molecular evolution and genetic engineering of C4 photosynthetic enzymes

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69 Citations (Scopus)


The majority of terrestrial plants, including many important crops such as rice, wheat, soybean, and potato, are classified as C3 plants that assimilate atmospheric CO2 directly through the C3 photosynthetic pathway. C4 plants, such as maize and sugarcane, evolved from C3 plants, acquiring the C4 photosynthetic pathway in addition to the C3 pathway to achieve high photosynthetic performance and high water- and nitrogen-use efficiencies. Consequently, the transfer of C4 traits to C3 plants is one strategy being adopted for improving the photosynthetic performance of C3 plants. The recent application of recombinant DNA technology has made considerable progress in the molecular engineering of photosynthetic genes in the past ten years. It has deepened understanding of the evolutionary scenario of the C4 photosynthetic genes. The strategy, based on the evolutionary scenario, has enabled enzymes involved in the C4 pathway to be expressed at high levels and in desired locations in the leaves of C3 plants. Although overproduction of a single C4 enzyme can alter the carbon metabolism of C3 plants, it does not show any positive effects on photosynthesis. Transgenic C3 plants overproducing multiple enzymes are now being produced for improving the photosynthetic performance of C3 plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number381
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • C photosynthesis
  • Gene evolution
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase
  • Transgenic plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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