Introducing an algal carbon-concentrating mechanism into higher plants: Location and incorporation of key components

Nicky Atkinson, Doreen Feike, Luke C.M. Mackinder, Moritz T. Meyer, Howard Griffiths, Martin C. Jonikas, Alison M. Smith, Alistair J. Mccormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Many eukaryotic green algae possess biophysical carbon-concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) that enhance photosynthetic efficiency and thus permit high growth rates at low CO2 concentrations. They are thus an attractive option for improving productivity in higher plants. In this study, the intracellular locations of ten CCM components in the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii were confirmed. When expressed in tobacco, all of these components except chloroplastic carbonic anhydrases CAH3 and CAH6 had the same intracellular locations as in Chlamydomonas. CAH6 could be directed to the chloroplast by fusion to an Arabidopsis chloroplast transit peptide. Similarly, the putative inorganic carbon (Ci) transporter LCI1 was directed to the chloroplast from its native location on the plasma membrane. CCP1 and CCP2 proteins, putative Ci transporters previously reported to be in the chloroplast envelope, localized to mitochondria in both Chlamydomonas and tobacco, suggesting that the algal CCM model requires expansion to include a role for mitochondria. For the Ci transporters LCIA and HLA3, membrane location and Ci transport capacity were confirmed by heterologous expression and H14CO3 - uptake assays in Xenopus oocytes. Both were expressed in Arabidopsis resulting in growth comparable with that of wild-type plants. We conclude that CCM components from Chlamydomonas can be expressed both transiently (in tobacco) and stably (in Arabidopsis) and retargeted to appropriate locations in higher plant cells. As expression of individual Ci transporters did not enhance Arabidopsis growth, stacking of further CCM components will probably be required to achieve a significant increase in photosynthetic efficiency in this species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1302-1315
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Plant Science


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Bicarbonate transporter
  • Carbon-concentrating mechanism
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • Photosynthesis improvement
  • Tobacco


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