Ancestral light and chloroplast regulation form the foundations for C4 gene expression

Steven J. Burgess, Ignasi Granero-Moya, Mathieu J. Grangé-Guermente, Chris Boursnell, Matthew J. Terry, Julian M. Hibberd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


C4 photosynthesis acts as a carbon concentrating mechanism that leads to large increases in photosynthetic efficiency. The C4 pathway is found in more than 60 plant lineages 1 but the molecular enablers of this evolution are poorly understood. In particular, it is unclear how non-photosynthetic proteins in the ancestral C3 system have repeatedly become strongly expressed and integrated into photosynthesis gene regulatory networks in C4 leaves. Here, we provide clear evidence that in C3 leaves, genes encoding key enzymes of the C4 pathway are already co-regulated with photosynthesis genes and are controlled by both light and chloroplast-to-nucleus signalling. In C4 leaves this regulation becomes increasingly dependent on the chloroplast. We propose that regulation of C4 cycle genes by light and the chloroplast in the ancestral C3 state has facilitated the repeated evolution of the complex and convergent C4 trait.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16161
JournalNature plants
StatePublished - Oct 17 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Ancestral light and chloroplast regulation form the foundations for C4 gene expression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this