Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol. 2001 Jun;52:297-314. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.52.1.297.


The majority of terrestrial plants, including many important crops such as rice, wheat, soybean, and potato, are classified as C3 plants that assimilate atmospheric CO2 directly through the C3 photosynthetic pathway. C4 plants such as maize and sugarcane evolved from C3 plants, acquiring the C4 photosynthetic pathway to achieve high photosynthetic performance and high water- and nitrogen-use efficiencies. The recent application of recombinant DNA technology has made considerable progress in the molecular engineering of C4 photosynthesis over the past several years. It has deepened our understanding of the mechanism of C4 photosynthesis and provided valuable information as to the evolution of the C4 photosynthetic genes. It also has enabled us to express enzymes involved in the C4 pathway at high levels and in desired locations in the leaves of C3 plants for engineering of primary carbon metabolism.