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Australia’s native grasses give clues about crop responses to global warming

Australia’s native grasses give clues about crop responses to global warming

Image: Researcher Bala Sonawane with native grasses Image courtesy: Charles Tambiah/ ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis

A team of researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis has investigated the effects of temperature on photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform sunlight into grain and leaves, and have found that some Australian grass species respond differently to temperature.

Being a warm continent, Australia is a hotspot of genetic diversity among C4 grasses. This diversity may harbour valuable clues on how to improve crop yield and understand how crops will respond to future climates.

“C4 photosynthesis has evolved independently many times, resulting in different variations of this pathway, but little is known about how these different pathways respond to temperature,” says Associate Professor Oula Ghannoum, Chief Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.

The research measured the temperature response of photosynthesis in eight C4 grass species that represented the three different types of the C4 pathway. Prior to the study, it was assumed that these different pathways determine the way photosynthesis responds to temperature. The  study found that this is not the case, providing inspiration to explore other possibilities to explain why C4 plants respond differently to temperature.

Media issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.

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