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The aim of this project is to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in plants. C4 photosynthesis, through anatomical and physiological changes, is more efficient in conditions of heat and water stress than C3 photosynthesis, from which it is derived. The evolution of these anatomical and physiological features is thought to happen in steps, and several species are observed to have evolved some of these steps, but not all of them, thus being called C3-4 intermediates.

The Brassicaceae family is an especially interesting study group for this topic. Besides containing several species of commercial value, it contains several independent origins of C3-4 evolution, all with closely related species that remain C3. At the moment, this group of species is undergoing studies on phenotype variation related to photosynthesis, such as CO2 compensation point, CO2 assimilation rate, and vein density.

This project intends to sequence the genome and transcriptome of several Brassicaceae species, including C3 and C3-4 intermediates, and thereafter to pinpoint genetic differences between groups with different photosynthesis kinds. By cross-referencing genetic data with detailed phenotype evaluation, we aim to identify new genetic connections to the development of C3-4 intermediacy.

Brassica project:

  • C4 Breed: Brassicacea genome sequence