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Rubisco substitutions predicted to enhance crop performance through carbon uptake modelling

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wasim Iqbal, Dr Rebecca Moore, Iain Hope, Dr Danny Cowan-Turner, Dr Maxim KapralovORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology.Improving the performance of the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco is among the targets for increasing crop yields. Here, Earth system model (ESM) representations of canopy C3 and C4 photosynthesis were combined with species-specific Rubisco parameters to quantify the consequences of bioengineering foreign Rubiscos into C3 and C4 crops under field conditions. The 'two big leaf' (sunlit/shaded) model for canopy photosynthesis was used together with species-specific Rubisco kinetic parameters including maximum rate (Kcat), Michaelis-Menten constant for CO2 at ambient atmospheric O2 (Kc21%O2), specificity for CO2 to O2 (Sc/o), and associated heat activation (Ha) values. Canopy-scale consequences of replacing native Rubiscos in wheat, maize, and sugar beet with foreign enzymes from 27 species were modelled using data from Ameriflux and Fluxnet databases. Variation among the included Rubisco kinetics differentially affected modelled carbon uptake rates, and Rubiscos from several species of C4 grasses showed the greatest potential of >50% carbon uptake improvement in wheat, and >25% improvement in sugar beet and maize. This study also reaffirms the need for data on fully characterized Rubiscos from more species, and for better parameterization of 'Vcmax' and temperature response of 'Jmax' in ESMs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Iqbal WA, Miller IG, Moore RL, Hope IJ, Cowan-Turner D, Kapralov MV

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Experimental Botany

Year: 2021

Volume: 72

Issue: 17

Pages: 6066-6075

Online publication date: 11/06/2021

Acceptance date: 09/06/2021

Date deposited: 12/07/2023

ISSN (print): 0022-0957

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2431

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erab278


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Funder referenceFunder name
NE/S007512/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)