A growing global population requires a greater food supply. The agriculture industry and biotechnology sector are trying to overcome the challenge and improve crop efficiency by increasing food production in the same or smaller farming areas, as well as dealing with the threats imposed by climate change. Consequently there is a strong need for methods in improving crop yields that increase plant biomass to improve the efficiency of crop production. The group of Prof. Avihai Danon at the Weizmann Institute of Science have discovered that by modifying the enzyme “atypical cys his rich thioredxin” (ACHT4), leads to an overall increase in starch and biomass of tested plant species. The innovation of the Danon group represents a potentially novel method of improving overall plant yields, using standard techniques.
- Improving plant biomass production
- Straightforward method
- Applicable to a wide array of crops
The technology is based on the discovery that ACHT4 interacts with the AGPase enzyme, which is the first committed enzyme in the starch synthesis pathway. The Danon group discovered that ACHT4 transfers an oxidative signal (disulfide bond formation) from 2-Cys Prx to AGPase, via the APGases small subunit ASP1. The oxidative signal inactivates AGPase, specifically in the transition from day to night cycle. Additionally, it was discovered that by truncating the C-terminus of ACHT4 and overexpressing the ACHT4?C, stopped the interaction with ASP1, consequently allowing for an increased transitory starch content. The overexpression of ACHT4?C showed an increase in plant biomass yield in at least two different plant species.