One of the evolution’s biggest mistakes has been the enzyme that grabs hold of CO2 and adds it to a carbon chain, holds an oxygen molecule by mistake. This generates toxic molecules that plants have to expend energy to mop up.
Initially it was not a major issue since there was little oxygen around. But subsequently it became a problem as oxygen levels rose and CO2 levels declined. The grabbing of oxygen by mistake called photorespiration now happens so often that it has reduced photosynthesis efficiency by 50%.
But the process is now being rerouted. Amanda Cavanagh at the University of Illinois in Urbana has designed three alternative pathways for dealing with the toxic byproducts of photorespiration. These pathways into tobacco were chosen because it’s an easy plant to modify and has a short life cycle. In field tests also the biomass of the best performing plants was boosted by at least 40%.
If this breakthrough continues we hope the good days will come and great chunk of masses may not starve.