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Do the C4 photosynthesis with me

New paper on evolution of plant photosynthesis

Oeiras, 6.04.2018

All plants do photosynthesis, putting together light, H2O, and CO2 to form sugars and thus feed all food chain. The first photosynthesis route was C3 and due to environmental pressures (lowering CO2 level, more light, high temperature, and less water), some plants evolved to a much more efficient C4 photosynthesis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying C4 photosynthesis evolution is the first step to have crops capturing more atmospheric CO2 and consequently producing more sugars and biomass. Now, ITQB NOVA researchers from Nelson Saibo Lab and GPlantS Unit with colleagues from University of Cambridge have described an ancient gene expression regulatory code involved in the evolution of C3 to C4 photosynthesis. Results were published today in Molecular Biology Evolution.

Both photosynthetic cycles are already well established, but their regulation was still unknown.  “What we know now is that the genes for C4 photosynthesis are already present in C3 plants, but are not properly regulated in order to produce the proteins in the amount and local necessary to put the C4 mechanism in motion”, explained Nelson Saibo main author of the paper. “We have now identified a regulatory element involved in the C4 photosynthesis evolution that might be associated with the high expression levels observed in C4, but not in C3 photosynthesis”


Original paper
Molecular Biology and Evolution, msy060,

Synergistic binding of bHLH transcription factors to the promoter of the maize NADP-ME gene used in C4 photosynthesis is based on an ancient code found in the ancestral C3 state

Ana Rita Borba, Tania S. Serra, Alicja Gorska, Paulo Gouveia, Andre M. Cordeiro, Ivan Reyna-Llorens, Jana Kneřova, Pedro M. Barros, Isabel A. Abreu, M. Margarida Oliveira, Julian M. Hibberd, Nelson J.M. Saibo

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