C4/CAM flexibility: bioengineering based on Portulaca?

I grow Portulaca for its heat tolerance so this combination of two types of carbon-fixing pathways fascinates me. Imagine if major food crops could be modified for this kind of C4/CAM combination:



So your idea is that a food crop supplied with CAM ability might survive a drought?

I wouldn’t call it my idea because for years now there’s be a number of published research projects exploring food crop improvements through C4 and CAM pathways.

I’ve also read articles about scientists at Cambridge University developing mathematical models to predict the evolutionary steps involved in the transition from C3 to C4 photosynthesis. Among their goals is introducing CAM plant traits into C3 crops.

I’ve also found that there is increasing cooperation between various CAM and C3-to-C4 research groups to “think big” on the bioengineering of food crops to use water more efficiently while increasing yields to meet the challenging demands of climate change.

Outside my area of expertise here, but are all the major food grains C3?

Most are C3 but I know from my farming days of long ago that corn and sugarcane are C4.

I noticed in this article that switchgrass is mentioned as one of the crops the Oak Ridge scientists are trying to improve with a CAM pathway. I assume that goal is pursued with an eye on using relatively unproductive arid land for producing biomass for electricity generation.

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