Rubisco limits C3 photosynthesis under some conditions and is therefore a potential target for improving photosynthetic efficiency. The overproduction of Rubisco is often accompanied by a decline in Rubisco activation, and the protein ratio of Rubisco activase (RCA) to Rubisco (RCA/Rubisco) greatly decreases in Rubisco-overproducing plants (RBCS-ox). Here, we produced transgenic rice (Oryza sativa) plants co-overproducing both Rubisco and RCA (RBCS-RCA-ox). Rubisco content in RBCS-RCA-ox plants increased by 23%-44%, and RCA/Rubisco levels were similar or higher than those of wild-type plants. However, although the activation state of Rubisco in RBCS-RCA-ox plants was enhanced, the rates of CO2 assimilation at 25°C in RBCS-RCA-ox plants did not differ from that of wild-type plants. Alternatively, at a moderately high temperature (optimal range of 32°C-36°C), the rates of CO2 assimilation in RBCS-ox and RBCS-RCA-ox plants were higher than in wild-type plants under conditions equal to or lower than current atmospheric CO2 levels. The activation state of Rubisco in RBCS-RCA-ox remained higher than that of RBCS-ox plants, and activated Rubisco content in RCA overproducing, RBCS-ox, RBCS-RCA-ox, and wild-type plants was highly correlated with the initial slope of CO2 assimilation against intercellular CO2 pressures (A:Ci) at 36°C. Thus, a simultaneous increase in Rubisco and RCA contents leads to enhanced photosynthesis within the optimal temperature range.
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