Activity of the Calvin cycle enzyme sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphatase (SBPase) was increased by overexpression of an Arabidopsis ( Arabidopsis thaliana ) cDNA in tobacco ( Nicotiana tabacum ) plants. In plants with increased SBPase activity, photosynthetic rates were increased, higher levels of Suc and starch accumulated during the photoperiod, and an increase in leaf area and biomass of up to 30% was also evident. Light saturated photosynthesis increased with increasing SBPase activity and analysis of CO 2 response curves revealed that this increase in photosynthesis could be attributed to an increase in ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate regenerative capacity. Seedlings with increased SBPase activity had an increased leaf area at the 4 to 5 leaf stage when compared to wild-type plants, and chlorophyll fluorescence imaging of these young plants revealed a higher photosynthetic capacity at the whole plant level. Measurements of photosynthesis, made under growth conditions integrated over the day, showed that mature plants with increased SBPase activity fixed 6% to 12% more carbon than equivalent wild-type leaves, with the young leaves having the highest rates. In this paper, we have shown that photosynthetic capacity per unit area and plant yield can be increased by overexpressing a single native plant enzyme, SBPase, and that this gives an advantage to the growth of these plants from an early phase of vegetative growth. This work has also shown that it is not necessary to bypass the normal regulatory control of SBPase, exerted by conditions in the stroma, to achieve improvements in carbon fixation.
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