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Greater mesophyll conductance and leaf photosynthesis in the field through modified cell wall porosity and thickness via AtCGR3 expression in tobacco

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E-pub ahead of print
  • Coralie E. Salesse‐Smith
  • Edward B. Lochocki
  • Lynn Doran
  • Benjamin E. Haas
  • Samantha S. Stutz
  • Stephen P. Long
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/04/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Plant Biotechnology Journal
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date30/04/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Summary: Mesophyll conductance (gm) describes the ease with which CO2 passes from the sub‐stomatal cavities of the leaf to the primary carboxylase of photosynthesis, Rubisco. Increasing gm is suggested as a means to engineer increases in photosynthesis by increasing [CO2] at Rubisco, inhibiting oxygenation and accelerating carboxylation. Here, tobacco was transgenically up‐regulated with Arabidopsis Cotton Golgi‐related 3 (CGR3), a gene controlling methylesterification of pectin, as a strategy to increase CO2 diffusion across the cell wall and thereby increase gm. Across three independent events in tobacco strongly expressing AtCGR3, mesophyll cell wall thickness was decreased by 7%–13%, wall porosity increased by 75% and gm measured by carbon isotope discrimination increased by 28%. Importantly, field‐grown plants showed an average 8% increase in leaf photosynthetic CO2 uptake. Up‐regulating CGR3 provides a new strategy for increasing gm in dicotyledonous crops, leading to higher CO2 assimilation and a potential means to sustainable crop yield improvement.