Projects per year
Many algae use a biophysical carbon concentrating mechanism for active accumulation and retention of inorganic carbon within chloroplasts, with CO2 fixation by RuBisCO within a micro-compartment, the pyrenoid. Engineering such mechanisms into higher plant chloroplasts is a possible route to augment RuBisCO operating efficiency and photosynthetic rates. Significant progress has been made recently in characterising key algal transporters and identifying factors responsible for the aggregation of RuBisCO into the pyrenoid. Several transporters have now also been successfully incorporated into higher plant chloroplasts. Consistent with the predictions from modelling, regulation of higher plant plastidic carbonic anhydrases and some form of RuBisCO aggregation will be needed before the mechanism delivers potential benefits. Key research priorities include a better understanding of the regulation of the algal carbon concentrating mechanism, advancing the fundamental characterisation of known components, evaluating whether higher plant chloroplasts can accommodate a pyrenoid, and, ultimately, testing transgenic lines under realistic growth conditions.