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Scientists a Step Closer to Heat-tolerant Wheat

Scientists a Step Closer to Heat-tolerant Wheat

Plants' Rubisco activase (Rca) act like smart thermostats that tell air conditioners to switch on when the sun bears down during summer days. Rca tells the plant's energy-producing enzyme (Rubisco) to kick on when the sun is shining and signals it to stop when the leaf is deprived of light to conserve energy. A team from Lancaster University has discovered that swapping just one molecular building block out of 380 that makes up the Rca in wheat enables it to activate Rubisco faster in hotter temperatures, suggesting an opportunity to help protect crops from rising temperatures.

Dr. Elizabete Carmo-Silva, senior lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre who oversaw this work for the project Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) said they took a wheat Rca (2β) that was already pretty good at activating Rubisco in lower temperatures and swapped out just one of its amino acids with one found in another wheat Rca (1β) that works pretty well in higher temperatures but is not too good at activating Rubisco — and the result is a new form of 2β Rca that is "the best of both worlds."

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