Using the Green Millet to Understand C4 Photosynthesis

Close up of Setaria viridis.
Close up of Setaria viridis.

C4 plants are more efficient at using CO2 to make carbohydrate molecules through photosynthesis.  Many plants perform C3 photosynthesis. In warm, dry environments these C3 plants can lose up to 30% of their photosynthetic capacity to photorespiration- a wasteful process in which an enzyme vital to photosynthesis reacts with O2, instead of CO2. Since C4 plants have evolved a way to reduce photorespiration, they are more efficient at photosynthesis, even in hot, dry environments. These plants are also more efficient at using water and nitrogen. Increased photosynthesis means increased sugar production, which leads to higher plant yields. However, there is still a lot to learn about the C4 photosynthetic pathway. Scientists want to use the green millet to gain a deeper understanding of C4 photosynthesis to possibly understand how to convert C3 to C4 photosynthesis in plants, and to improve food and feed crops, as well as biofuel crops.

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