Physiological Implications

Figure 16.6 shows the A/Ci curve for ordinary C3 plants, calculated by the equations of Farquhar and von Caemmerer10 from the reported kinetic values for plant RuBisCO. The CO2 compensation point is 50 ppm intercellular CO2, and the CO2 fixation shifts from the RuBisCO-limiting phase to the RuBP-regeneration-limiting phase at 170 ppm CO2. If Galdieria RuBisCO is substituted for plant RuBisCO, the realizable transgenic plants will have the CO2 compensation point at 16 ppm CO2. The phase transition will occur around 70 ppm CO2. This predicts that the introduced Galdieria enzyme will utilize the photosynthetic chemical energies efficiently even in the presence of low concentrations of CO2.

These considerations teach us that changing the enzymatic properties of RuBisCO of C3 plants is a meaningful direction for improve- ment of plant productivity.3 Particularly, increasing the relative specificity and the affinity for CO2 of RuBisCO is a meaningful direction in plant biotechnology.

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